Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fragrant Rice Pilaf


Pilaf is called plov (Russian) or pilaf (Romanian) in my place of birth (Moldova, Eastern Europe). In Moldova, pilaf is a common dish served in restaurants and canteens, but can also be made more elaborately as a festive dish served on special occasions and holidays. Since my husband hails from India, I frequently blend these two culinary worlds while cooking. Making this pilaf, I followed the technique we use for making pilaf in Moldova, while using Indian ingredients and spices.


Serves 4 to 6. Medium difficulty.
Preparation time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Ingredients:
· 2 cups basmati rice
· 2 cups chopped vegetables (fresh or frozen): peas, green beans, carrots, corn
· 6 cups water
· ½ cup chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
· 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Spices:
· 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
· 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
· 1 tablespoon whole fennel seed
· ½ tablespoon crushed black pepper
· ¼ tablespoon crushed black cardamom
· 6-8 clove buds
· ½ teaspoon turmeric
· ½ tablespoon paprika
· 1 tablespoon salt
To garnish:
· 2 dry red chili peppers, seeds removed
· 2 sticks (2”each ) cinnamon
· 8-10 curry leaves.

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottom pan or kadai at medium heat. Fry the chili, cinnamon sticks and curry leaves for about 10 seconds each, one ingredient at a time. Set aside.
2. Add all the spices in the same oil, fry for about fifteen seconds or till seeds splatter, making sure they do not burn.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, fry for another minute or so, till well incorporated in the spice mixture.


4.Add the vegetables to the spice and tomato mixture and fry for 2 minutes, until tender.

5. Add the rice to the spice, tomato and vegetable mixture and fry for a minute, constantly mixing.


6. Add water, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until desired texture, stirring the pilau occasionally so it does not stick to the pan.
Serve the pilaf hot, garnish with the fried chili, cinnamon and curry leaves.


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