appetizers · food + drink · posts

Rice Cubes with Coriander Chilli Dipping Sauce

Rice Cube-0040Trying to figure out the Rubik’s cube was always a puzzle and one I never quite managed to solve, however, looking at my new culinary gadget… this bright red cube looked like something I could master. When family and friends know you love kitchen gadgets, it’s inevitable you will receive them as gifts. My lovely daughter thought the Rice Cube looked really cool (I believe the shop had a video demo running in the background) and decided to buy me one… or maybe it was a big hint to make sushi.

Invented by an Australian cook Ross Patten to impress the judges at a Master Chef audition, the Rice Cube is used to mold rice and other soft foods into bite-sized portions. I love stylish presentation and am definitely sold on the idea of tasty square morsels of rice. Information about the Rice Cube is found on the official website, which has recipes and ideas if you plan on buying one.

Rice Cube-0021The first recipe that came to mind was an appetizer I make for casual entertaining, cooked rice rolled into balls and served with a coriander chilli dipping sauce. Jasmine rice is naturally sticky and when compressed and molded, holds together without falling apart. Using the Rice Cube with this recipe seemed a good place to start.

Working with the Rice Cube felt a little awkward at first but I soon got into the rhythm after molding a few squares which looked so neat. This could be the start of a new obsession… a square one!Rice Cube-0053Some notes: Use a good quality peanut butter when making the dipping sauce, I used a peanut butter (made by Neshat) that I had bought from a farmers market in Bahrain, which tastes so good. When cooking the rice add salt to the water, otherwise the rice will taste bland. The rice cubes or rice balls and dipping sauce can be made a couple of hours in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator. If you are not a fan of fish sauce season the dipping sauce with some sea salt instead. Grilled prawns also taste delicious with this dipping sauce.

 Rice Cubes with Coriander Chilli Dipping Sauce


  • 4 cups of freshly cooked Jasmine rice (makes about 20 rice cubes)
  • 2 cups chopped coriander, (leaves, stalks and roots)
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 or 2 small red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of roughly chopped spring onion (green part)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 100ml creamy coconut (homemade or canned)
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce (approximately)
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

How to make: If using the Rice Cube just follow the instructions. Molding by hand; when the cooked rice is cool enough to handle, gently compress small bite-sized portions of rice with your hand and roll into a ball, you will need to dampen you hands with a little water when doing this. Keep the molded rice covered at all time otherwise it begins to dry out. Garnish the rice squares or balls with the sesame seeds before serving.

For the dipping sauce, add the coriander, garlic, chilli, spring onion, lime zest, lime juice, coconut milk and peanut butter into a food processor or blender. Process all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour into a suitable container and season with fish sauce to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Keep an eye out for more square recipes 🙂

appetizers · food + drink · salads · store cupboard

Fresh Fruit with Chaat Masala

Fruit MasalaIt has taken me a little longer to get around to posting again since returning from my trip to India. This trip was a little different from the usual family holidays… an all girls road trip from Delhi to Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur! We squeezed so much in with lots of sightseeing and visited some truly amazing and memorable places, like the Taj Mahal, Amber Fort, Askshardham Temple and City Palaces, words to describe what you see visually I will leave to the writers and poets of the world!  The other side of the coin is that there are families and people in living conditions and surroundings that are less than basic and at times left you feeling a heavy sense of sadness…!

IndiaIndian food was on the menu every evening and we had some delicious dining experiences, the most memorable was at the Rambagh Palace Hotel in Jaipur where most of us ate the Rajasthani thali,  sampling a variety of dishes from the region. Choosing more wisely at breakfast each morning, I ate some of my favourite fruits, papaya, bananas and pineapple. So, it seems fitting to include a very simple recipe and easy my way back into posting… with a little spice!

Fruit Chaat is a very popular street food in India, fresh fruit served with a mix of spices called chaat masala, giving the fruit a sweet, sour and spicy taste.  Chaat masala is also used in salads like this easy cucumber salad and some savoury dishes like Aloo chaat, a savoury potato dish.

IndiaThere are many recipes for chaat masala and the only ingredient I could not find was mango powder (amchoor) as it was out of stock, so I bought some dried pomegranate seeds instead. The packaged version of chaat masala contained black salt (kala namak) which gave a very sulfurous eggy taste to this spice mix and was not something I liked with the fruit. However, this post on black salt may change my mind, when I get around to trying some with fried potatoes! Fruit chaat could be served as a light starter before an Indian dish like Dal Makhani, a very popular lentil dish.

Chaat Masala With a little experimenting I wanted a simpler version of this spice blend, the packet version had 19 ingredients! Lulu hypermarkets in Bahrain stock a range of spice mixes and of course not forgetting the spices from the Manama souk. If chaat masala seems a little much to start sprinkling over your fruit, try mixing a little black pepper with some chilli powder or just keep it plain and simple… lime juice and fresh mint.

Chaat Masala


  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds
  • 2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds or cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ajowan seeds
  • a pinch of Himalayan salt or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground Kashmiri chilli

for the fruit salad

  • 1 papaya, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 pineapple, skin removed and cut into pieces
  • 3 bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 4 small limes, juiced (more to taste)
  • a handful of chopped fresh mint leaves

How to make: Use a pestle and mortar and ground together the black peppercorns, dried pomegranate seeds, coriander seeds or cumin, ajowan seeds and a pinch of Himalayan or sea salt into a fine powder, mix in the Kashmiri chilli. Store the spice mix in a small container until needed.

Place the prepared fruit into a bowl, pour over the lime juice and add the mint, gently mix until combined. Place into a serving bowl or individual dishes and scatter over some chaat masala. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Note: The papaya and pineapple can be prepared in advance but leave the bananas before serving as they discolor quickly when sliced.

desserts · food + drink · posts

Caramelized Pineapple with Chilli and Sweet Coconut Broth


Easing myself into the new year with this light and refreshing dessert for this months blog hop themed Tropical Paradise, hosted by Nic from Dining with a Stud. I love tropical flavours and the combination of fresh pineapple and coconut is a favourite. Our weather is not very tropical at the moment but blasting the fruit with some heat from a kitchen blowtorch and adding a little fresh chilli to a coconut based broth gives this dessert a touch of tropical paradise.

The kitchen blowtorch is a very handy tool to have and I mostly use it for adding a thin crisp caramel coating to crème brûlées, browning some meats and fish, adding a touch of colour to meringue toppings, marshmallows and gratins! Also a great tool for lighting candles and if you are into food styling for photography then a kitchen blowtorch will come in useful!

DSC_0038Using the kitchen blowtorch to add a quick glaze of caramel over fruit and intensify its flavour couldn’t be simpler, especially when preparing a small amount. If I was entertaining a larger crowd I would use the grill. As coconut sugar is quite solid a looser sugar like muscavado is used for sprinkling over the pineapple before caramelizing. The sweet coconut broth can be made ahead and chilled but best to caramelize the pineapple before serving. If you are not a fan of pineapple,  replace with bananas, which will be just as delicious!

Caramelized Pineapple with Chilli and Sweet Coconut Broth


  • 400ml coconut cream
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 50g coconut sugar
  • 1 ripe pineapple, cut lengthways into quarters, core and skin removed
  • muscavado sugar, for caramelizing
  • 1 small red chilli, de-seeded and very finely chopped

How to make: Place the coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir leaf, zest and juice of lime and coconut sugar into a saucepan. Gently bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn down the heat and gently simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan with a lid and leave the broth to infuse and cool completely. Discard the lemongrass and kaffir leaf.

Pat dry the pineapple with some kitchen paper. Sieve a light layer of brown sugar over the pineapple. Use the blow torch in a sweeping motion over the sugared pineapple to caramelize. Cut the pineapple into desired sized chunks and thread onto a wooden skewer.

Divide the broth into small bowls and scatter over a little fresh chilli, place the caramelized pineapple skewers over the bowl, serve immediately! Serves 4 to 6.

This post is part of the Sweet Australian Blog Hop, head over to Nic’s blog Dining with a Stud to see all the other delicious Tropical Paradise entries!SABH_13-01_Tropical-300-1