A Silk Road Favorite
Panko Meets Mozzarella
This Afghan dish is typical of the cuisine of the Silk Road. The recipe is adapted from the version served as the Gandarmack Lodge in Kabul. It is basically a Risotto. Different types of Rice and Cheese may be used, depending on what is available.
This would typically get served with Eggplants and Tomatoes with a Yogurt Sauce.
Rice Cakes with Cheese
6 cups Beef or Chicken Stock
7 tablespoons Butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 medium Onion
2 cups Basmati or Arborio Rice
½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese plus more for serving
½ cup fresh Mozzarella Cheese
2 to 3 Eggs
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1½ cups fine dried Bread Crumbs or Panko
¼ teaspoon Salt or to taste
Marjoram sprigs for garnish
Next bring the Stock to a simmer. In a separate heavy saucepan put 1 tablespoon Butter, 2 tablespoons Olive Oil and the Onions over medium-high fire.Put in the chopped Onion and cook until it becomes translucent. It takes about 7 minutes. Add the Rice and stir to coat well. Add a cup of the Stock, stirring constantly until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat the process with another cup of Stock. Continue adding the Stock and stirring constantly and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers but the Rice doesn’t scorch.
After about 20 minutes, nearly all the Stock should be absorbed. The Rice should be cramy but still firm to the bite. Now stir in the Parmesan Cheese and 2 tablespoons of Butter and mix well.
Remove the Rice from the fire. Spread it on a plate. Put it in the refrigerator for half an hour until it is chilled and firm. Using a spoon make about 15 small balls out of the Mozzarella Cheese.
Pack the Rice mixture into a measure holding a third of a cup, then unmold it into the palm of your hand. Place a half ball of the Mozzarella Cheese in the center of the Rice and pres the Rice around to make a small patty about 2½ inches wide and about half an inch thick. Shape it so the Cheese is completely covered by the Rice mixture. Repeat until you have 15 little Rice cakes.
Next step is breading the cakes. Put 2 Eggs and 2 tablespoons Water in a bowl and beat lightly. Put Flour on a separate plate and Bread Crumbs or Panko on another plate. Put a little Salt in the Bread Crumbs and mix well. Roll each Rice patty lightly first in the Flour, then dip in the Egg mixture, finally coating evenly with the Bread Crumbs or Panko. If needed, beat up another Egg with some Water.
While breading the Rice patties, heat the oven to 200º Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
In a large skillet over medium-high fire, melt 2 tablespoons of Butter together with 4 tablespoons of Oil. When the Butter is melted, fry the Rice cakes until golden brown and crisp. It takes about 2 minutes per side. Put the fried Rice Cakes on the baking sheet and put them in the oven. After they are all fried and warmed in the oven, they are ready to serve.
Serve two Rice Cakes on each plate. Sprinkle them with the rest of the grated Parmesan Cheese and spoon some Tomato Saue around them. Garnish with Marjoram.