Pumpkin, chestnut and almond brown rice balls

This delicious recipe for brown rice balls comes from Ferment by Holly Davis, wholefood chef and the founder of macrobiotic restaurant Iku in Sydney (available now in the Pip Shop). While Holly recommends these rice balls for autumn eating, they’re really all-season fare given how excellent both chestnuts and pumpkins are as harvest “keepers”.

Pumpkin, chestnut and almond brown rice balls

Rice balls are a favourite of mine, and this particular combination of textures and flavours is a match made in heaven. Perfect fare for autumn lunchboxes, these also make excellent canapés, to be dipped into the toasted sesame and miso dressing below. Serve with any of the Japanese-style pickles in chapter seven.

Makes approximately 12 balls

Ready in 1½ hours

220 g (73⁄4 oz/1 cup) short-grain brown rice

500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water

large pinch sea salt

120 g (41⁄4 oz/1⁄2 cup) pumpkin (winter squash) cut into 3 cm (11⁄4 in) dice

12 large freshly peeled chestnuts, cut into chunks (or use vacuum-packed peeled chestnuts)

80 g (23⁄4 oz/1⁄2 cup) dry-roasted almonds or crisp and crunchy almonds (see p.50), roughly chopped

Wash the rice very well in cold water and drain. Take a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid then add the rice, water, sea salt, pumpkin and chestnut. Put on the lid, place over high heat and bring to a rolling boil (don’t be tempted to take the lid off during the cooking and standing time).

Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 45 minutes. After that time, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Use a wooden rice paddle or large spatula to gently combine the rice, pumpkin and chestnuts then tip into a large, shallow bowl or tray and allow the rice to cool until you can easily handle it

Scatter the almonds on a plate. Using slightly damp hands, carefully divide the rice mixture into 12 and roll into balls. Roll each in the chopped almonds, coating well all over. Cool a little and eat as is, or serve at room temperature. Serve with the dressing below.

Recipe and image from Ferment by Holly Davis (Murdoch Books RRP $45)

Ferment

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