Smoked Grains

For peated Scotch, the malted barley grain is exposed to the pungent peat smoke during drying. Rauchbier (“smoke beer” in German) is made with malt dried over fires made from beechwood logs. While in Europe smoked grain is mostly used in traditional drinks, there are traditional Middle Eastern dishes with smoked wheat and rice.

My first discovery many years ago was freekeh (frikeh, farik (Arabic: فريكة‎‎ / ALA-LC: farīkah), made of immature durum wheat (Triticum turgidum var. durum) that is sun-dried and roasted with fire to create its smokey flavor. (More about Freekeh – Farik – Green Wheat.) Than I tried cooking with delicately smoked basmati rice and became curious about its roots.

“A practice peculiar to the Caspian provinces is to complete the drying process by smoking (dūd dādan) the rice; this, it is said, facilitates storage, gives the rice an unmistakable aroma, and keeps the grains from sticking together during cooking. There are two methods of rice smoking: 1. Sheaves may be hung in a place heated by the slow-combustion of a mixture of wood and rice chaff, as drying them too fast would increase the risks of their breaking during husking. 2. The grains of paddy (jo), once separated from the stalks, are spread out on racks covered with loam or placed in vessels (kālevī) made from cow manure and then smoked (Bromberger, p. 170).” — Source: IRANICA

These two examples illustrate how smoke flavor is naturally added through the process of preparing harvested grains before cooking. Another obvious way is to smoke grain during the cooking on wood fire and coals. Today, we want to enjoy the convenience of our modern kitchen and to keep all those amazing flavors, and home cooks get creative to imitate them with what is available. For example, many online recipes for mandi suggest placing a small fireproof dish with hot charcoal and some fat inside the pot with cooked dish, covered with a lid to keep the smoke. The smoke is created by burning fat, which is not the most delicious smokey compound.

Is there a way to use a stovetop smoker for adding wood fire flavors?

Using Camerons Smoker

Smoking grains with Camerons stovetop smoker is a no-brainer. Cook them to 80-90% of doneness, season, add some fat, and finish by smoking with wood chips of your choice. But if the introduction to smoked grains made you curious, you might want to try this recipe with Middle Eastern flavors. You can start without the Mandi spice mix or replace it with another regional mix you like and have handy.

Real Basmati rice grains are remarkably long and become twice longer when properly prepared for cooking and cooked. Do not skip any steps to enjoy unique Basmati properties in full.

Smoked Basmati

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: Basmati, Cameron's stovetop smoker, rice, spiced
Servings: 4 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basmati rice by Tilda
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter or avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp orange zest of 1 small orange
  • 2 each shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp raisins golden
  • 2 tbsp almonds whole, blanched, and roasted
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp mandi spice mix
  • 2 cups water or chicken stock, or vegetable stock

Instructions

  • Measure and soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the smoker and all ingredients. If making the Arabian spice mix at home, measure spices and grind them together using an electric coffee grinder.
  • Using a peeler, thinly peel the orange and slice the zest.
    Orange Zest
  • Peel and slice shallots. Peel and slice garlic.
    Sliced Shallots
  • Melt clarified butter in a pot over medium heat. Sauté shallots until golden. Add orange zest, garlic, raisins, almonds, and Arabian spice mix. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Turn off the heat.
    Smoke Basmati: Making
  • Strain soaked rice and rinse it under the running cold water.
    Soaked Basmati Rice
  • Shake to remove extra water and add rice to the pot with sautéed vegetables. Add saffron and 2 cups of water or stock.
    Smoke Basmati: Making
  • Bring water or stock to boiling, stir, reduce the heat to minimum, cover with lid, and cook for 10 minutes.
    Smoke Basmati: Par-cooked
  • Optional. While the rice is cooking, you can fry sliced eggplants (for vegetarian version) or chicken kabobs to finish them on top of the rice inside the smoker.
    Fried Eggplant
  • Prepare the smoker. Place 1.5 tbsp apple wood chips in the center of the bottom of the smoker. Using wide aluminum foil, wrap the drip tray and place it on top of the chips.
  • Transfer par-cooked rice into a non-reactive container that fits inside the smoker. You can finish the rice as a side dish OR add fried eggplants or chicken kabobs to finish a complete meal in the smoker. Place the container with rice on the tray.
    Smoked Basmati Rice with Chicken Kabobs
  • Close the lid and place smoker over high heat making sure the burner is right under the pile of wood chips. Our goal is to bring wood chips to smoldering as quickly as possible.
    Smoke Basmati: Par-cooked
  • Turn off the heat after 10 minutes since the moment your smoker was placed over the heat. Let the smoke set for the next 5 minutes, lid closed. Remove the container with smoked rice and serve.
    Smoked Basmati Rice with Chicken Kabobs

Notes

My favorite Basmati rice is Tilda!
Ingredients for Arabian spice mix:
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 cardamom pods, seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ginger powder (galangal aka "khalanjan" preferred)
  • 3 tsp turmeric powder
Smoked Basmati with Eggplants
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