Friday, September 19, 2008

Rice Pilaf in my rustic way...

Rustic, because it is not one of those delicate preparations of a typical rice pilaf, but a quick fix for a simple dinner. However, despite my rice getting clumpy, the end result was just wonderful! In fact, quite good, if you don't mind the clumpyness of the rice, to which I had added too much of water so that by the time it cooled down it had become clumpy.

Before I continue further, I have to mention that I am a 'nutty' kind of person. not the nutty you are thinking! It is just that I love using nuts and seeds at any opportunity I get, be it cooking savoury food or baking some sweet dishes or just eating them like that (If only they were not so rich -those calories....!). Hubby had brought a large packet of peanuts from the Chinese shop at walking distance from his office. And I was quite enthusiastic about using them in all kinds of dishes I prepared. So, a bunch of them came into use here as well.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes


1 1/2 cups Basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for about 10-15 minutes
a few tbsp oil, for frying
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into large and thin slices and rinsed quickly in some water
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground - divided
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp peanuts, skinned
2-3 spring onion, chopped
8 peppercorns
2 medium carrots, cut into thin round slices
2 cups beans, chopped
10-12 crimini mushrooms, quartered or halved
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 pinch red chili powder (optional)
1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
salt to taste
a few sprigs mint leaves, washed thoroughly and chopped (optional)

  • cook rice in about the same quantity of water (1 1/2 - 2 cups) on high heat till it starts to boil. Reduce heat to the lowest and simmer till the rice is done and the water is all absorbed. Remove from heat and keep warm
  • In the meantime, fry the potato slices in some oil along with turmeric and 1/2 tbsp ground coriander seeds in a fry pan on medium heat till done and keep warm
  • heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and let cumin seeds splutter, reduce heat to medium and immediately add while stirring peanuts, sesame seeds (be careful! they will splutter and fly! - keep a lid handy to cover), black peppercorns and spring onions and fry till the onions are golden in colour. Take out and mix with the potatoes and keep warm
  • add the beans and carrots to the pan and fry on medium heat till done and mix with the potatoes and keep warm
  • now fry the mushrooms in some oil on high heat, add the zucchini, fry further and add remaining 1/2 tbsp ground coriander seeds, stir further for a minute
  • put all the fried vegetables back to the pan along with chili powder and salt to taste and stir once
  • crumble the rice before adding to the vegetables and mix carefully.
  • Serve garnished with roasted cumin powder and mint leaves (optional) along with Raita as a side (yoghurt stirred with salt and roasted cumin powder)
As you see, my rice has become sticky. Due to these reasons that I know:
  1. I added too much water - Basmati requires little water and little time to cook - and I cooked it for too long
  2. I didn't take it out of the pan immediately after it was done - I wasn't done with cooking the vegetables - would have made the rice go cold
  3. I could have added some butter to the rice after it was done, stirring it in gently - I didn't want that.
  • To make it remain fluffy and single grained one needs to avoid the above two points and a lot of feeling is required for the amount of water required. If not sure, use lesser amount and check in between and add more water, if required. Switch off heat five minutes before the rice is completely done and let stand on the stove till done.
  • Another option would be to use natural (brown) or parboiled rice. It is a better option than polished rice because it is not so sticky like polished rice and it is healthier too!
But we enjoyed the meal despite the clumpyness. Hubby did complain about the slightly burnt (oops!) peanuts - he does not like even a single black spot on food. He does not like peanuts in rice in any case (and I love them with rice), but otherwise, I felt, the rice tasted actually very good as it was, still warm and made a very good combination with the potatoes and vegetables, the peanuts and sesame seeds, and the roasted cumin gave the final touch to it.
Later on I was thinking that I could have added some fresh mint leaves from my garden, but the pilaf was already so rich in flavours that we didn't really miss anything and enjoyed this simple, wholesome and delicious meal.
After writing this post, I feel I have to try it with brown rice too.
Yes, I'll do that............ :)

I'm sending this over to Srivalli's Rice Mela!


Sunshinemom said...

Looks yum. I do not add peanuts or zucchini in pulao but I add these in mixed rice preparations usually. As for the softness beyond pulao - It happens with me too sometimes - usually when it is time to replace the old gasket in the cooker, and I haven't done that! At such times the rice gets steamed a little more - I serve it as a risotto then:)

Divya said...

I kind of stick my cooked rice in the fridge to cool off before making pulav... and then mix it with the vegetables. The heat from the veggies warm the rice through, and it holds itz shape well. Just my two cents there...

Ivy said...

Thanks for visiting again. I have added you as well in my blogroll. What a co-incidence. I posted a rice pilaf yesterday and I will post another one tomorrow. Your pilaf sounds delicious and I never thought of adding nuts into it but maybe I will try it.
When I was reading your post when you said that your pilaf became clumpy the first thing that I thing went wrong is that you soaked the rice prior to boiling. I don't cook basmati often but a few times I have cooked it, I didn't soak it and it came out fine.

PG said...

thank you all! These were some good tips I will surely try out. sunshinemom, next time I will aslo call it risotto! ;)
Divya, I know that cold rice does not get too mushy and crumbles more easily to mix wth the veggys, but sometimes I don't have time for that, but maybe I should plan that time. And Ivy, I have to try it with unsoaked rice, though I soak rice for about 15 minutes to have longer grains of the rice. I guess I have to be careful with not to soak it too long in water.

Monika said...

my two cents - add a few drops of lemon while boiling the rice (of course apart from adding less water) to keep the rice separate and fluffy... u can also add ghee or butter as u mentioned but i usually avoid that

PG said...

thanks Monika! for this wonderful tip! :)