This dish is one of my favourites. I like to serve it on a large platter with a simple chopped cucumber and tomato salad. Make sure to top off the rice with a slathering of butter, letting it melt through the layers before serving.
- 400g (2 cups) Basmati rice
- 200g (2 cups) trimmed green beans
- 200g (7oz) store-bought meatballs of your choice- beef, pork, lamb or mixed
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 45g (3 tbsp) tomato paste
- 120ml (8 tbsp) vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- optionally, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and ground dried rose petals
To make the sauce, heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Add the chopped onion and fry for 3 minutes or so.
Add the trimmed green beans to the pan and fry for 2 minutes. They need to still be crunchy; they will cook through when mixed with the rice.
Add the meatballs to the pan and fry them lightly. When they turn a light brown colour, add the tomato paste and season with salt, pepper, and turmeric if desired. Set aside.
Soak the rice in a pot containing hot water and 2 heaped tablespoons of salt. Cover and set aside to soften. This will considerably reduce the cooking time.
Bring a litre of water to a boil in a large saucepan; make sure it is big enough to contain the rice, which will double in volume when cooked.
After 10 minutes, transfer the soaked rice into the boiling water and cook only until the rice grains are half-cooked.
To be sure, press a rice grain between two fingers; it should be soft on the outside but hard in the middle.
Strain the rice.
Heat 60ml (4tbsp) of oil in the saucepan you cooked the rice in.
When the oil is piping hot, add two spatulas of rice into the bottom of the saucepan, spreading it evenly.
If desired, sprinkle ground cinnamon and ground dried rose petals evenly on top of the rice.
Spoon a third of the sauce over the rice and repeat the layers until you run out of each, making sure to save enough rice for the top layer.
Pour in 125ml (½ cup) of water around the edge of the pot, reduce to a medium heat and cover.
When steam starts to seep from beneath the lid, spoon a generous knob of butter on top of the rice.
Cover and lower the heat. Cook for another 15 minutes.