Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cooking with Dill and other things from the garden

Going back to Karachi always does this to me. It's almost traumatic- especially the return. Not so much because I miss my family- indeed three weeks of pure wedding can be a family dose large enough to last a long while- no, it's more like a massive drain of energy so that I come back virtually juiced out. That faced with the husband travelling a bit too often for work, start of school for Sara and the blustery weather that I didn't quite know what to make of. So come evening, I would crash in front of the telly with my dinner while the wind howled through the trees outside.

More recently, the days have been all blue and breezy. My brain fog seems to be clearing up as well and I have finally got round to doing something with the dill that has grown huge outside. It grew rather fast and fuss free and almost took over the rocket and basil in the raised bed.

We have had a steady harvest of tomatoes and aubergines. The first few tomatoes off the vine had Blossom End Rot but just like last year the second batch of tomatoes seems to have corrected the problem. Peppers have been a miserable failure. However, with our gorgeous harvest, we have made a delicious Grilled Veg Soup and Green Pancakes with Lime Butter from Ottolenghi's Plenty and an amazingly simple Mediterreanean Fish Bake. The bees have been doing their work on the cucumbers and there's some peas coming in now and radishes too. All in all, a lot to be grateful for and a lot to take pleasure in. 

By the way, I tried to do a post about each and every one of these dishes but obviously I am still at the Food Photography for Idiots stage. Each afternoon, I ran like a headless chicken between kitchen and dining table, fingers greasy, things burning and wilting as I tried to capture too many details. In the end, by the time, the final dish was made, it was too dark and the girls wanted their dinner. However, I must say that the introductory photography course I did end of last year with Gulf Photo Plus and a workshop I attended with fellow food bloggers at the Fatafeat studio has done a lot to make me comfortable with my camera. But not brave enough to venture into the realms of reflectors and diffusers and the fully manual mode...

Today, we made a Persian Dill and Broad Bean Pilaf along with a fresh cucumber and radish garden salad. It was a perfectly light yet satisfying lunch. And although, the girls probably found the dill flavour to be unusual and a bit too complex, they managed to hoover the Pilaf up, bless them!

The recipe for Persian Dill and Broad Bean Pilaf is pretty simple too. I am not claiming that this is the traditional way but only something that works beautifully for me.

Persian Dill and Broad Bean Pilaf 

11/2 cup basmati rice, soaked for an hour
1 cup frozen broad beans
1 cup chopped fresh dill
4 tbsp butter
Salt to taste


1- Bringe a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add rice and salt and cook until almost three quarters cooked.
2- Drain and rinse with cold water.
3- Dunk broad beans in some hot water for a minute. Rinse with cold water and shell them.
4- Wipe the pot and melt 2 tbsp of the butter in it.
5- Add a layer of rice and then a layer of broad beans and dill.
6- Alternate layers until all the rice, beans and herbs have been used up, ending with a layer of rice.
7- Make a few holes in the final layer with your finger and drop the remaining butter into these.
8- Wrap a tea tower around the lid of pot and place it so that no steam escapes.
9- Cook the rice on high heat for 5-7 minutes until steam forms and then turn it down to the lowest setting and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
10- Turn off heat. Let rice rest for 5 minutes. Fluff up with fork and serve warm.


  1. I totally understand that feeling of being so drained and listless when you get back from weddings back home. Am in the same situation here and have been dragging my feet for a week! But kudos to you for growing all these veggies in your garden, fresh food is the best way to detox and revive yourself! Oh and I love the photos of the pilaf :)

  2. I am so inspired by your veggies , trying to grow some myself , crossing my fingers and hoping for the best :)

  3. Your pictures are too beautiful Shumaila...can't pick which one is the best,they all are gorgeous. The pulao is simple yet so full of flavours. And lady I am glad to see you back.

  4. I did one week of wedding-stuff in January and I was drained for weeks after. Prepared to go through the same thing all over again soon. Oh well...
    Love the photographs btw...very, very nice.

  5. Thank you girls it seems like alt of us have just been put through the wedding season...

  6. beautiful pic.. bountiful too..
    Just started gardening..inspired by my neighbour..(she thinks u are cool)
    I soo wanna go meet the nad-al sheba guys !!!

  7. Hi Shumaila! I've been wondering what to do with my broad beans sitting in the freezer! beautiful pics and pilaf looks good, did you take the Macro course at GPP?

  8. hi Deepti i think i took the intro to digital photography workshop...

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  11. Fishing in Dubai is a fun loving sport. i personally like it very much

  12. Hi Shumaila, ur blogs are very informative. Thanks

  13. Nice post, Those who are not growing vegetables by their selves, you can get Fresh vegetables in Dubai hassle free.

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