This salad is an unashamed plagiarism from a recently acquired cookbook, ‘Persiana’ by Sabrina Ghayour. Packed full of mouth-watering photos of exotic dishes, it’s a firm favourite. Many recipes feature ingredients that I already (somewhat smugly) own, such as sumac. The book is littered with recipes that I have already made more than once, which is rare – I consider a cookbook a success if I make one recipe from it.
I am normally somewhat underwhelmed by rice salads, and almost flicked straight past this one when browsing through the book. However, given that I have a nearly empty box of red rice lurking at the back of my cupboard, I decided to give it a go. It’s safe to say that I needed to seriously reevaluate my view on the matter after making this salad. The balance of sweet and salty is just right, and the colours and textures compliment each other beautifully. There is also a pleasing balance of warm and cold ingredients – chargrilled vegetables and toasted nuts with cold rice and onions – which works well.
Owning more than one type of rice may sound extravagant (at last count I have 3), but red rice is definitely worth tracking down for this recipe. It has a pleasant nutty taste, and retains its attractive maroon colour, even when cooked. It does take a rather long time to cook though, which I always forget, and am left tapping my fork impatiently against the side of the pan, willing it to cook faster. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it, as Sainsbury’s stocks it, proving once and for all that they’re paying attention to the latest hipster food trends. Red rice is staying firmly on my (somewhat hipster) shopping list from now on.
I have been quite busy lately. As well as working almost full time in the café, I have started an internship with a food magazine in Bristol two days a week. This doesn’t leave much time for coming up with unique and interesting recipes for my blog. So this recipe is willfully and unashamedly ripped out of a cookbook, with only a few minor alterations. Thanks, Nigella.
Poor Nigella, she’s got such bad press lately. Cocaine or no cocaine, I still think she’s fantastic. A brilliant food writer and presenter, she has managed to amass a net worth of around fifteen million. I have found lots of her recipes, like this one, that I make again and again. It uses ingredients that I could pilfer entirely from the freezer and store cupboard. She does simple, unfussy cooking remarkably well, and with apparent effortlessness.
My lack of time also equates to a lack of daylight to shoot in, given that the inky-black winter evenings are drawing in. So this was a good opportunity to experiment with using artificial light, rather than daylight. Ultimately, I think daylight is always going to be most flattering for photographing food, but it’s interesting to try artificial light. I used an ordinary desk lamp, the dust brushed off from the loft, as the main light source. I placed a diffuser between the lamp and the food, to even out the light, and stop too many shadows forming. This set up threw a dark and moody light on the scene, which helped to convey an evening setting.
There is something quite frustrating about trying to take a photograph of your food at dinner time, when all you want to do is scoff it down. But I think it also makes you concentrate harder on what it actually is that makes you want to eat it, and try an capture that in the photos.