Swiss Retro Recipe: Riz Casimir

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An easy meal for kids, I’ve created a dairy-free version of a popular Swiss dish from the 1950s: Riz Casimir.

I first discovered Riz Casimir at Zurich’s Hiltl Restaurant in December 2013. When I saw it on the menu, I didn’t realize this curry dish was actually over a half-century old and known throughout Switzerland. Only after trying Hiltl’s vegetarian version did I start noticing this dish in other restaurants and among the prepared meals from Coop and Migros. Finally, after I came across a simple recipe for Riz Casimir in my Swiss cookbook for public schools, Croqu’menus, I decided to try making it myself.

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According to Betty Bossi, Riz Casimir is often mentioned as a favorite dish by people of all ages in Switzerland. The founder of the Mövenpick restaurants, Ueli Prager, developed this recipe in 1952 with ingredients considered exotic for the time: curry, pineapple and banana. Ultimately, it seems Riz Casimir is the Swiss interpretation of Kashmiri Rice, a northern Indian dish.

Instead of using cream, I’ve been making Riz Casimir with coconut milk. I also added a few other ingredients, like fresh garlic and ginger, and some optional toppings, like chopped cashews and cilantro, to give it a little more flavor and texture. My 3-year old isn’t a huge fan of curry, but this is a very mild recipe.

In terms of presentation, I modeled my version after the photo in my Swiss cookbook of a wreath of rice decorated with banana, pineapple and cherries, and the curry nestled in the center. Honestly, it feels a little ridiculous arranging the fruit like this on the platter, but if it helps my finicky kids find it more appealing, I’ll continue to do it!


Riz Casimir

Recipe adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 91).
(dairy-free, egg-free)
Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

1-2 teaspoons sunflower or canola oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated or chopped
4 chicken breasts, sliced into thin and bite-size pieces
100 ml white wine or allergy-friendly chicken/vegetable broth
250 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch
salt, to taste

Optional toppings: chopped cilantro and cashews, pineapple rings and apple slices

Serve with hot basmati rice

Instructions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, ginger and garlic for a few minutes until tender and fragrant.

2. Cook the chicken for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until its nearly done. Remove from the pan and set-aside. Add the wine (or chicken/vegetable broth) and simmer for a few minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and curry powder to the wine in the pan, and whisk it together until well-incorporated.

4. Whisk in the cornstarch and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes more until the sauces thickens slightly.

5. Serve immediately with basmati rice and optional toppings.


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Mysterious Hives and Curry Supper

For my 15-month son with multiple food allergies, mealtime can be stressful and hives can occur when you least expect them. During the last week, and on two separate occasions, my son developed small patches of mysterious hives around his mouth. While they weren’t nearly bad enough to warrant an EpiPen, nor did he seem to notice, I was extremely worried.

For the first minor outbreak, we were in Bern at a restaurant. As I mentioned, our restaurant experiences during our weekend getaway were great, but my son did manage to get a few small hives around his mouth after eating Swiss-German sausage, French fries and stewed prunes. The restaurant assured us the meal was milk, egg, peanut/tree nut and sesame free, but something caused him to have a very minor reaction. Here are the scenarios we considered:

  • Was it casein, a milk product used as a “binder” in the sausage (see more info about milk ingredients at FARE’s website). I didn’t ask to review an ingredient list for the sausage, as I put my trust in the restaurant, but next time I will ask more specifically about these hidden milk ingredients.
  • Were the stewed prunes or French fries cooked in butter? Or in a shared pan that had previously been exposed to butter? Or nuts?
  • We used a high chair from the restaurant, which I wiped down beforehand. Yet, was there some food residue leftover from another child containing one of my son’s allergens? This seems unlikely, but it’s always something I think about.

For the second minor outbreak, we were at home. I had made chocolate frosting for a layer cake. The small bit of frosting I gave him caused some minor hives around his face. Again, he didn’t notice, nor seemed to care. He just wanted MORE frosting and didn’t understand why I wouldn’t give him another quick taste. The only potential culprit I could identify was the new brand of supposedly allergy-friendly cocoa powder, so we’ll be avoiding that in the future.

I’m so grateful he’s only had minor outbreaks, but they occurred even when we seemingly took all the necessary precautions. It will be easier once he’s older and can describe his symptoms. However, I hope he will have outgrown some, if not all, of his food allergies by then.


Chicken-Tofu-Chickpea Curry

One of my Swiss readers suggested I highlight some gluten-free recipes, so I’m going to make more of an effort to do so. My son has multiple food allergies, but he’s fine with gluten, soy, and several other common allergens. I keep hearing of children who have many more allergies than he does and face even more limited mealtime options. As such, I want to try and include more recipes that avoid the eight most common food allergens.

Here’s a recipe I used for dinner last night. It was a success, even though the chickpeas weren’t a favorite of my food-allergic son. As usual, I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand because I’m just not that organized. So, I used chicken AND tofu, skipped the garlic and cilantro, and obviously avoided the yogurt. For an allergy-friendly version, you could use gluten-free flour and/or omit the tofu.


If you have other gluten-free meal options to share or know of good gluten-free restaurants in Switzerland, please leave a comment below or send an email to dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com. Thanks!

Updated December 8, 2013.