An issue of Food and Wine magazine arrived in the mail and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was completely dedicated to the cuisine of Mexico. In this issue the two recipes that got me intrigued were vegetarian dishes that combined Mexican and Indian flavors. One of the recipes was for a dish called royal rice and the other one was for Indian pakoras made with chickpea flour, Mexican herbs, and Mexican lager beer. The rice dish is really interesting because it is a blend of Indian and Mexican flavors all mashed up into one main dish that can be had with yogurt raita or as a side with fish or chicken.
The World’s Ambassador. Anthony Bourdain
On a complete side note, I wanted to share this very moving tribute to Anthony Bourdain by the editor of Food and Wine magazine Hunter Lewis. Lewis shared his sentiments on Anthony Bourdain’s passing and the legacy that he left behind of the love of global food and culture. Lewis’ tribute was written so well that it struck a cord with me and I thought I would share a part of it here.
The World’s Ambassador: By Hunter Lewis
“Bourdain’s star rose just as media coverage of global food culture exploded. For 18 years, he was alone out front as an author and TV personality, the narrator of the ride. Bourdain’s TV show Parts Unknown served as my eyes and ears to the world. His 2014 episode in Iran especially challenged cultural assumptions. Look how gracious these people are! Look how hospitable. She how they shower guests with food? That was Bourdain’s special gift: Whether in Tehran or Detroit, he wove us all more tightly together, using the common threads of food, drink, and conversation. He made the wold feel smaller. And he alwyas championed underdogs. He advocated for restaurant workers and immigrants, especiallu those from Mexico and Central America who are the backbone of the food industry.
Thankfully, the tall, wiry man who swaggered throgh the great cities of the world leaves behind his stories, books, articles, and episodes filled with soul and truth. We’re left with an even more critical part of his legacy as well; the enduring spirit of curiosity. Curiosity is more powerful than divisive isolationist jingoism. Curiosity opens the door to cultural exchange and understanding.
Our narrator is gone, so let’s turn off the TV for a while, OK? Let’s open our doors to others, cook without borders, and gather stamps in our passports. Lets push down tall walls to make longer tables.” Hunter Lewis. Editor of Food and Wine Magazine.
Hitesh and I loved watching Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown – we were so fascinated by the places he visited all over the world and how he opened our eyes to not just the food in these countries and cities, but their culture, their political climate, their beliefs, and the way they lived. Anthony Bourdain gave us a culinary adventure wrapped up in an engaging geography lesson. He was a true global ambassador.
Folks did you watch the Season Premiere of Parts Unknown in Kenya? It was one of the last episodes he taped. Explore Parts Unknown. Destination Kenya Hitesh was glued to the TV watching this episode! The show was filmed in his home country and he was eager to see how it was all portrayed by Anthony Bourdain. A thumbs up 👍 from Hitesh and this feedback from Washington Post “You’ll laugh and you’ll cry, but you’ll also learn something about a place you probably never gave much thought to before. This episode contains so much of what people have loved about Bourdain since his first show aired — as something of an experiment — almost 17 years ago. What began as a guy going to places to eat unexpected foods evolved into shows about food and culture, and ultimately became a series of informative cinematic essays about places and their people at poignant moments in history. In Kenya, you get it all of that (with a side of goat head soup).” From Washington Post: It’s Anthony Bourdain’s journalism that we will miss most.
Those of us who love global cuisine and believe that we are all connected in one way or another, and that food brings us all together no matter where we are from, no matter what color, religion and political affiliation we are; Anthony Bourdain will truly be missed. He was The World’s Ambassador.
Royal Rice. A fusion of Mexican and Indian flavors.
Now back to this royal rice recipe that is a creation of Bay Area chef couple Norma Listman and Saqib Keval who started restaurant Masala y Maiz – an Indian/Mexican/Kenyan/Ethiopian fusion restaurant in Mexico City. Royal rice is described by Saqib as a “Desi and Mexican hybrid of Indian biryani and toasted pilaf style rice cooked in coconut milk with nuts, dried fruit, and herbs.”
With sweet raisins, almonds, onions, garlic and coconut milk, this is a delicious rice dish that surprisingly has no spices. For complete directions for Mexican/Indian royal rice dish take a look at this link Royal rice by Saqib Keval and Norma Listman
Cook’s Notes: This recipe makes a large quantity of rice almost 10 cups. The recipe is also a multi step process. Below is my version with some shortcuts and I also cut the recipe down to 2 cups of rice for my family of five and it was still a lot of rice. I also found the coconut milk neutralizes a lot of the onion and garlic flavors so you need extra of both to taste them in the rice. Here is a modified recipe and ingredients list.
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 tbsp golden raisins
- 4 tbsp natural raw almonds or slivered almonds
- 5 fresh curry leaves (optional)
- 2 cups uncooked basmati rice
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions or 2 medium onions finely cut
- 6-8 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can 13.5oz coconut milk, well shaken and stirred
- 2 tbsp minced fresh mint plus more for garnish
- In large pot heat 3 tbsp oil and lightly toast raisins and almonds for about 1 minute.
- Next add the curry leaves and toast in oil for a few seconds.
- Add garlic and onions and sauté until onions are translucent about 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until light golden brown – about 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, 5 cups water, salt to taste, fresh mint, and chili flakes (optional). Bring the rice to a boil then lower the heat and cover the pot. Cook rice for 15-20 minutes until rice is tender and all the water has evaporated.
- After 20 minutes open the pot and fluff rice with a fork. It is okay if the bottom of the pot burns slightly, scrape the burnt rice bits and incorporate it into the rice. Royal rice is ready.
- Garnish with fresh mint, cilantro, and toasted almonds before serving.