Savory Rice and Green Pea Pilaf
A savory, eye-catching center piece, this rice pilaf is perfect for the buffet table or as an adaptable main dish for a light luncheon or dinner. It is rich with color, texture and flavor.
Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
• Basmati or other long-grain white rice – 1 cup (95 g)
• Ghee or vegetable oil – 3 table spoons (45 ml)
• Raw cashew, almond or peanut bits or halves – ¼ cup (35 g)
• Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Minced seeded hot green chilies – 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml)
• Scraped, finely shredded or minced fresh ginger root – ½ table spoon (7 ml)
• Water – 1 2/3- 1 ¾ cups (400-420 ml)
• Shelled fresh green peas or frozen baby peas, defrosted – ¾ cup (189 ml)
• Turmeric – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Garam masala – ½ teaspoon (2 ml)
• Raisins or currants – ¼ cup (35 g)
• Salt – ½ -1 teaspoon (2-5 ml)
• Mixed fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, etc.) or 1 ½ table spoons (22 ml) mixed dried herbs – 3 table spoons (45 ml)
1. If basmati rice is used, clean, wash, soak and drain as explained on page 4.
2. Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy 1 1/2 quart/liter nonstick saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the cashew, almond or peanut bits or halves. Fry, stirring constantly, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove the nuts with a slotted spoon.
3. Raise the heat to moderate and toss in the cumin seeds, green chilies and ginger root. Fry until the cumin seeds turn brown. Pour in the rice and stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the water, fresh peas (if you are using them), turmeric, garam masala, raisins, salt and herbs. Raise the heat to high and bring to a full boil.
5. Immediately reduce the heat to very low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and gently simmer without stirring for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and fluffy. If you are using frozen peas, defrost them in a strainer under hot running water. After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, remove the lid and quickly sprinkle the peas on top. Replace the cover and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and fluffy.
6. Turn the heat off and let the rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the fragile grains to form up. Just before serving, remove the cover, pour in the fried nuts and fluff the piping-hot rice with a fork.
By Yamuna Devi Dasi