In Iraq it is common to eat what we call "red rice" which is a tomato-y rice that brightens up and cuts the richness of seafood and fried fish main dishes. Throw in a nice salad too and you've got the perfect meal!
Tuna rice is kind of a recipe I invented in my late teen years and upon my return from my trip to Yemen. I think I was inspired by the amazing and flavourful canned tuna from Dubai and Yemen. My family just fell in love with this dish and it's been a regular on our table for years!
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- 2 of each (as you see in photo below) long red and green pepper. Not sure the name of the variety but these are popular in Turkish cuisine and we use them for stuffing. Some are hotter than others.
- 2 green chilies (optional)
- 1/4 lemon wedge
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp GOOD olive oil (I used a Spanish variety from Olive That!)
- 1 can firm chunk tuna packed in oil, this brand is found in Middle Eastern/Persian grocers, I like it better.
- 1/2 cup tomato passata
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups basmati (sila or parboiled basmati is ideal) rinsed and soaked for 2 hours at least.
- 1 bunch cilantro (and more for serving/eating!)
- Salt & black pepper (or whole black pepper corns)
Boiling water from kettle
In a large pot add the olive oil and begin sauteeing the diced red onion, followed by the peppers on medium heat.
Add the garlic briefly then the tomato paste and puree. Sautee until it smells nice and all the raw tomato paste flavour is gone.
You may need to use a splash guard because tomato can splatter. Turn the temperature down if needed.
Add the drained rice which has already been soaking for a couple of hours in advance. Add 1 tsp salt per cup of rice, so two teaspoons.
Gently toss until it's coated in the tomato/pepper mixture. For 2 cups rice I add 3 cups boiling water.
Throw in the whole green chilies on top and lay the pieces of tuna from the can over top as well (gently so it doesn't break apart) I drained off most of the oil earlier but you can put it in, just decrease the initial bit of olive oil then.
The cilantro goes in as well as about 1/3 tsp black peppercorns (optional) or cracked black pepper. Throw in the lemon wedge too.
Cover and allow to cook on low heat for about 40 minutes.
Remove the rice from the pot and arrange on a platter. Serve warm! This is a perfect dish, one of my favourites!