Sunday, November 09, 2008


This is the pilaf I've made so may times that I can nearly do it without looking now! It's a very savoury, rich and delicious rice dish that goes great with Moroccan and Middle-Eastern food. It can pass as Indian in a pinch (and much less cooking time than you need for the real biryani) and it travels well and needs no refrigeration, so also great for pot-luck dinners, picnics, etc. I like to leave the cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks arrayed across the top of the dish for decoration, but take them out if you're worried someone might start munching away. If you need cardamom, cinnamon, pine nuts, ground cloves and basmati all in one place, All India Foods is the spot.

Pilaf (serves 4, but it's really good so that might be stretching it)

  • 1 and a quarter cups basmati rice
  • 100g butter
  • Quarter cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 75g whole blanched almonds
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 5 black cardamom pods, whacked with a rolling pin to bruise them (you can use green ones)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • half a teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g currants
  • 600ml chicken stock ( I use Knorr powder)
  • half a teaspoon ground cloves
  • half a teaspoon salt (optional)

Wash the rice very well under running water until water runs clear. Leave it to drain thoroughly. In a large heavy-based saucepan with a tight fitting lid, warm half the butter with the olive oil over a medium heat. Add onion, cover, and cook for 5-7 mins or until translucent but not coloured. Increase heat slightly, add nuts, cardamom and cinnamon, and cook for 3-4 mins, stirring constantly, until nuts are lightly browned and spices are fragrant. Remove from heat. Stir in the pepper and currants.

Meanwhile, heat the stock to a simmer. Add the rice to the onion mixture and stir well to coat the grains. Add the hot stock, cloves and salt if using. Stir once and bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 3 minutes. Puffs of steam may be visible. Reduce heat to low and cook, still covered for another 10 minutes.

Take pot away from the heat. Remove lid, cover the pot with a clean tea towel, replace the lid and set aside for 10 minutes. Toss the pilaf with a fork and stir through the remaining butter.

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