Rice Pilaf

After the over-indulgence of the festive season, it is time for healthier eating, but in no way does that mean that one cannot tuck into scrumptious food anymore.

For me, the easiest way to still have a ball of a feast loaded with goodness is to serve a laidback brunch that will cover both breakfast and lunch. I normally lay the table under the huge trees in our garden or otherwise we enjoy the sea view from our front stoep in Langebaan while feasting on a variety of fruit fresh from the farm and then tuck into a one-pan rice pilaf as our main.

But I have a secret card up my sleeve too which adds extra goodness!

Apart from fruit orchards, we also have hectares of rooibos tea on our family farms on the mountain near Citrusdal. Just over 20 years ago, my twin sister, Mientjie, started the now famous rooibos tea brand, Carmién Tea, a combo of our names, Car & Mien as well as meaning red (from carmine).

Nowadays Carmién Tea is specifically known for its wide and extended range of herbal, flower, and now so popular pyramid tea blends with unique flavour combinations, all of them meticulously blended and packed on the farm.

Of course, I enjoy plenty of cups of tea, but for years now Carmién also formed part of my spice cupboard. Apart from making litres of ice tea daily, I use it a lot in my cooking too.

Not only all the goodness of rooibos is added to the dish, but the interesting combos of the different Carmién tea blends add wonderful flavour and spice to any dish. For me, it really helps to cut back on the hundreds of spice bottles that always clutter my kitchen cupboard.

Hint: When looking for a sweeter or spicy taste, use red rooibos blends, but when cooking meat, beans, or lentils where you want a more herbal flavour, use the green rooibos blends.


My take on a well-known breakfast dish, kedgeree, and ideal to serve at a laidback brunch. Leftover fish (from the previous night’s braai) is ideal to work into this simple yet tasty and versatile dish. The masala spice mix of the tea adds a wonderful flavour to the dish.

Serves 6

250 g brown rice
750ml (3c) Carmién Focus rooibos tea (rooibos, masala chai spice, with cinnamon and turmeric) (6 bags)
Salt to taste
250ml (1c) brown lentils
500ml (2c) Carmién Revive (green rooibos, ginger, chilli) (4 bags)
2 onions, chopped
15ml (1T) biryani masala
500 g braaied snoek, bones removed and flaked
1 can (400 g) chickpeas, drained, but reserve the liquid
20g coriander leaves, half chopped
4 hardboiled eggs, sliced
2 lemons, sliced

1 cucumber, seeded and cubed
1 small red onion, chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tomato, seeded, cubed
30ml (2T) rice vinegar
5—10ml (1—2t) brown sugar

Sliced bananas
Creamy yoghurt

1. PILAF Cook the rice in the spicy rooibos tea till soft and add salt to taste. Drain.

2. Cook the lentils in a separate pot in the green rooibos tea till soft. Drain and mix with the rice.

3. In the meantime, fry the onions in some oil in a large pot till soft. Add the masala and mix. Add the flaked fish and chickpeas and cook till warm.

4. Stir in the rice and lentil mix, half of the chopped coriander and cook till warm, add some of the reserved chickpea liquid if the pilaf looks too dry.

5. Spoon onto a large serving platter and arrange the eggs on top. Garnish with the rest of the coriander leaves.

6. SAMBALS Combine all the ingredients.

7. TO SERVE Serve the sambal, bananas, and yoghurt with the pilaf.

Hint: instead of fish, leftover cooked chicken, pulled into shreds with two forks, will also do the trick or you can even add a can or two of tuna.

Omit the fish or chicken, add some cheese or nuts if preferred, and this will be the ideal dish to serve at a dinner party as a vegetarian option.

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