Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for green tea rice with sake vegetables

Lockdown has forced me to think about my travels and people I met. One person who comes to mind is Sanjay, who managed the Glenburn Estate in Darjeeling. At dinner, he cut open a bottle of champagne using a sword and invited everyone into the kitchen to watch him flambé bananas while regaling us about a battle he once had with a king cobra. But the thing that I took away most was his love of using green tea in cooking. He smoked ingredients with it, and he used it in salads and cakes. Here, I’ve used it as a stock in which to cook rice, which yields results much gentler and less dramatic than Sanjay’s stories.

Green tea rice with sake vegetables
This makes for a light springtime lunch or dinner. You’ll need two pans with lids: a frying pan for the vegetables and a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid for the rice. I used a sencha tea with matcha powder, but any good sencha will work well here.

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

350g jasmine rice
2 green tea bags – I use Pukka matcha
1¼ tsp fine sea salt
3 tbsp rapeseed oil – I like Mr Organic
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and cut wafer thin
10 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
250g pak choi, quartered
250g frozen petits pois
200g mangetout
4 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tbsp cooking sake
Black sesame seeds, to garnish

Wash the rice several times in cold water until it runs clear, then drain.

Put the tea bags and 600ml water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, leave to boil for a minute, then take off the heat and remove the tea bags. Add the drained rice and salt to the pan, bring back to a boil over a medium heat, then cover, turn down the heat to a whisper and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and, with the lid still on, set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

For the vegetables, put the oil in a frying pan for which you have a lid and set over a medium to low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and spring onions, and cook for eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pak choi, peas, mangetout, soy and sake, cover and leave to steam for five to seven minutes, until tender but still vibrant green. Serve at once with the green tea rice and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.