Cooking with friends is one of my favourite things to do, and the other day my gorgeous friend Ruth came around to help me cook up a feast of Brazilian dishes. It's so much more relaxing to have an extra pair of hands to help out and to have a great person to chat to while we cook. Not to mention a good excuse to open a bottle of wine while you cook and catch up.
I'm always wanting to try new ideas in food styling, so I thought I would let a fresh pair of hands & eyes contribute. Ruth decided that, since it was Brazil month, everything should be as colourful as possible which I completely agree with! So she dug out my most colourful tablecloth, place mats & table decorations and used them all together. Did it clash? Yes. Was it brilliant? Yes. So I hope you enjoy these colourful photos, courtesy of Ruth's sense of fun :) Keep your eye out and you'll see her slightly crazy influence in some of my other Brazil month photos too!
Onto the food now. These fried rice balls turned out so much better than I had ever imagined. The rice is so delicious and flavourful that you don't need any dipping sauces or condiments with them & they're fried so light and crispy that you can't help going back for one more tasty crunchy bite!
These style of fried rice balls are often made in Brazil to use up leftover rice, but I cooked my own rice flavoured with chilli, orange, olives and Brazil nuts. I don't know about you, but whenever I think of Brazil nuts I think of the episode of the Simpsons in which they go to Brazil. Homer says to his kidnapper: "I have a bladder the size of a Brazil nut" and the man replies: "We just call them nuts here". I find that so funny that every time I think of Brazil nuts I hear his voice in my head saying "We just call them nuts here".
Traditionally, this recipe uses eggs as a binding agent. To make it vegan I just left them out and they held together fine because I cooked the rice by absorption so all the starchiness remained. If you have leftover rice which has been boiled, drained & rinsed then you may have more difficulty making them stay together. I recommend using rice cooked by absorption if you use leftover rice (otherwise you may need to add some egg replacer or cornstarch to bind). But if you follow this recipe you won't need any binder at all.
You can prepare the rice the night before, keep it in the fridge and then roll out and fry them just before serving.
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups water
1 tsp chilli powder (add more or less, to taste)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp orange zest (about half an orange)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped Brazil nuts
1/3 cup sliced black olives
Vegetable oil, for frying.
1. Combine the rice, water, chilli powder, garlic, olive oil, brown sugar, orange zest & salt in a large saucepan.
2. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook on a low heat, covered, for about 30 minutes - or until the rice is cooked and all the water has been absorbed.
3. Stir in the chopped nuts and olives and set the rice aside to cool.
4. When the rice is cool enough to handle, pick up a handful and press it firmly into a ball. You won't be able to actually roll it between your palms or it will break up, so just press it firmly into place with your hands. Keep doing this until all the mixture is gone.
5. Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a wok, frypan or saucepan. Fry the balls in batches for just a few minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel and set aside while you fry all the others.
6. Serve immediately, or keep warm in the oven until ready to eat.
Makes about 30 balls (will vary depending on how big you roll them).
This month I'm featuring lots of recipes from Brazil!
Check out my other Brazilian recipe posts: