A pilaf is a rice dish in which the rice is first lightly browned by cooking it with onions in oil or butter, and then adding in fragrant spices and vegetables. Traditionally in India, this dish uses clarified butter (ghee), but I use vegetable oil instead since it is healthier and easily available. You could describe this dish as the Indian version of vegetarian fried rice. My daughter loves both rice and vegetables, especially broccoli. I am so happy when she specifically asks for “vegetables and rice” and wants me to pack it for her school lunch. I include edamame (green soy beans) to add protein to this dish. You may eat this one-pot meal rice dish by itself or you may mix in some plain yogurt.
Serves 3 to 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes + 5 minutes to rest
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method: Place the refrigerated or defrosted rice in a microwave, sprinkle a few drops of water on it and stir periodically. Or, place the rice in a saucepan, sprinkle a few drops of water on it and warm over medium-low heat, stirring periodically.
1 cup (180 g) uncooked white Basmati rice 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 small onion, thinly sliced into half-moons 3 cloves 6 black peppercorns 1-inch (2.5-cm) piece cinnamon stick 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 dried bay leaf 3 whole green cardamom pods ½ cup (75 g) green edamame beans or ½ cup (60 g) green peas, fresh or frozen 1½ cups (150 g) fresh or frozen bite-size cauliflower florets (no need to defrost the frozen ones) 1½ cups (75 g) fresh or frozen bite-size broccoli florets (no need to defrost the frozen ones) 1 medium russet potato (about ½ lb/225 g), peeled and cut into ½ in (1.25cm) cubes 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin or thick matchsticks 2 cups (500 ml) water 1¾ teaspoons salt
1. Place the rice in a small bowl. Rinse three or four times by repeatedly filling the bowl with cold water and carefully draining off the water. It is okay if the water is not completely clear, but try to get it as clear as you can. Pour the rice into a large sieve to drain.
2. Pour the oil into a large saucepan and place it over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the onion, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, and bay leaf. Pry open the cardamom pods and add the seeds and the pods. Sauté until the onion is browned and the edges just start to crisp, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the edamame (or green peas), cauliflower, broccoli, potato, and carrot. Cover the saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the rice. Stir thoroughly. Add the water and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
5. Stir and reduce the heat to low. Cover the saucepan. Simmer undisturbed until the water is completely absorbed and you do not see any more water on the bottom of the saucepan if you insert a spoon through the rice, about 10 minutes.
6. Turn off the heat. Let rest, covered, for 5 minutes on the warm stove. Keep covered until ready to serve or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later. Before serving, gently fluff the rice with a fork to mix the vegetables. You may leave the whole spices in for presentation. Enjoy!
Recipe and photo from "Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook" by Shubhra Ramineni. Reprinted with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing. www.enticewithspice.com
Copyright 2011-2016 Shubhra Ramineni. All rights reserved.