This colorful and aromatic form of fried rice makes an exciting alternative to plain rice or Asian fried rices. The addition of ras-al-hanout makes it highly aromatic, and caramelized onion slices add just the right hint of sweetness.
There’s nothing like having access to fresh home-grown ingredients. Case in point, our bayleaf tree (see left). Bayleaf is one of those flavours that I find hard to describe but I can always identify it in a dish. We use the leaves both fresh and dried, e.g. in my ras-al-hanout, in chilis and also in curries. Since bay leaf was also used in this recipe I thought it would be a good subject matter for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging (hosted this time around by Susan from FoodBlogga)
Until I started researching this post I never realized that bay leaves were what Roman laurels were made from, nor did I know that the high esteem that this plant was held in continues to this day when we call esteemed individuals ‘laureates’ or receive a college degree (baccalaureate)!
I always take the bayleaf out of the dish when I am finished cooking, but with my mother it is rather hit or miss. In her words “yuh stupid enough to eat it?” … can’t argue with no-nonsense practicality like that! Gotta love West Indian moms
Several years ago I read that the reason for removing the leaf was because it was indigestible and would kill a person if consumed Fortunately, it turns out that that is just a myth. It is removed because it is too bitter and tough to be pleasurable to the palate. Phew! Still, common sense aside, I’ll stick to removing the leaf from my dishes nevertheless
Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in North America. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaise and bouillon. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni), and removed before serving. In Indian cuisine, bay leaves are often used in biriyani.
Bay leaves can also be crushed (or ground) before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, and there is less chance of biting into a leaf directly.
The Bay Leaf is useful in hearty, homestyle cooking. When you are making bean, split pea and vegetable soups, meat stews, spaghetti sauce, and chili, a Bay leaf can be added for a more pungent flavor. Alternate whole Bay Leaves with meat, seafood, or vegetables on skewers before cooking. Be sure to remove Bay Leaves before eating a dish that has finished cooking. The whole leaves are used to impart flavor only and are bitter and hard to chew.
Afghani Fried Brown Rice
Serving Size: 4
2 cups rice
5 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ras-al-hanout
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1. Soak the rice for 15 minutes. Wash well and drain.
2. Heat the oil in a pot and fry the onions until light brown.
3. Add the ras-al-hanout and bay leaf, and sauté 5 minutes.
3. Add the sugar and let it caramelize.
4. Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes.
5. Add salt to taste and 4 cups boiling water
6. Cook for 9-10 minutes until the rice is perfectly cooked.
This post was first published July 14, 2007. It has been updated once since then.