Indian Rice Balls

We've had curry and rice in Britain for over 250 years, so it's about time we re-told the story and in true Urban Rajah style we're re-mixing some recipes. I grew up in a town where immigrant food fragranced the air and ethnic communities shared their food and their stories...at the age of seven I tasted Italian food unlike none other at Mighelli DeCaprio's house. Fresh home-made pasta, vibrant basil leaves, home-grown tomatoes and specially imported parmesan (brought back in relatives' suitcases), among the recipes I tried as a child was the sublime texture and taste of the arancini rice ball. Inspired by my past and the desire to mash up the traditional curry and rice story in Britain, I've taken the tradition of creating a spice soaked stock Pilau rice and created the Pilaucini. They're perfect as a rice accompaniment to curries or delicious as a generous snack portion, this isn't a one-off recipe this is a deinite keeper and once you've tried these vegetarian Indian Arancini you'll know why. 

Makes about 15 Pilaucini

  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 150 g Arborio rice (Risotto rice)
  • 250 g vegetable stock
  • 60 g chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 50g flour
  • 60g  breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • water

Spices and herbs

  • 1 pinch Saffron
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 green chillies, chopped finely
  • salt, to taste
Vegetarian Pilaucini Rice Balls

How To Make Pilaucini

Step 1
To make the rice, boil the stock with the rice, saffron, cloves, salt, peppercorn and cardamom. Stir until they boil. Turn down heat and cover and stir occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed in the rice and the rice is soft and cooked through.

Step 2
In a shallow pan, heat the oil, add the cumin once they splutter, add onions and fry until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic cook until the raw smell leaves the pan. Add the spinach, butter and chilli powder. Now add the cooked rice and mozzarella cheese and stir until the mixture is stiff. Pour out on to a flat plate, cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Step 3
To make the Pilaucini balls: Prepare the breadcrumbs, flour and beaten egg in 3 separate plates. Start by heating up enough oil in a wok-like pan and keep on medium heat. Now using the cold rice mixture form balls and push in a small piece of paneer in the middle - reshape and continue to make them into a ball like shape. The size of the Pilaucini balls depends on you.

Step 4
Make a batch of about 5 balls at a time then dip in flour, egg and breadcrumbs - fry them together, turning them to ensure an even colour of golden brown.

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