Like kale and avocado, grain bowls are having a moment in the sun thanks to health-conscious one-dish-meal-loving hipsters. The blueprint of a grain bowl is simple. At its base is a grain (or three), which could comprise rice, spelt, quinoa or the like. You then layer vegetables, meat, nuts or other proteins like tofu on top, and crown the bowl with sauce or a poached egg. Our rendition takes its cue from Middle Eastern flavours and uses Japanese brown rice, which has a lovely nuttiness and stickiness. The zingy Greek yoghurt sauce called tzatziki and ground spices in the chicken keep the dish tasty and satisfying.
Pulled Chicken Grain Bowl
2 cups cauliflower florets
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp salt
1½ cups Japanese brown rice
3 chicken thighs
1 clove garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup plain Greek yoghurt
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
½ cup grated cucumber
a handful chopped fresh dill, plus extra for garnishing
- Start the day before or at least 4 hours in advance. Place chicken thighs in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Rub marinade into the chicken, cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Half an hour before cooking, take chicken out of the fridge and transfer to a sheet of foil. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and prepare a large baking tray.
- Soak the brown rice in a bowl of water for 30 mins.
- Place cauliflower florets in afood processor and blitz till it resembles rice grains. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any moisture.
- Remove paper towels and tosscauliflower bits with the cumin, smoked paprika and salt to mix. Transfer to a sheet of foil.
- Place the two sheets of foil containing the chicken and the cauliflower rice on the baking tray.
- Bake in the oven for 35 mins or until the chicken is cooked through and tender (insert a fork into the fattiest part of the thigh near the bone — if the juices run clear, it’s done), and the cauliflower is slightly caramelised. You may have to remove one or the other from the oven first.
- While the chicken and cauliflower are cooking, drain the rice and transfer to a rice cooker. Add two cups water and cook according to your cooker's instructions.
- When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and discard. Shred the meat using your hands or two forks, discarding the bones. Set aside in a bowl with the chicken juices.
- To make the tzatziki, place all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine.
- To assemble the grain bowl, mix cauliflower and brown rice together and arrange at the bottom of a bowl. Place chicken on top. Drizzle with chicken juices and tzatziki. Garnish with dill and serve immediately.
Photo by Ealbert Ho