Monday, May 11, 2009

Our favorite basmati pilaf

I've been making this pilaf for about a year now and it's become a staple in our house. I do it a bit differently every time, just depending on what I have in the house and how much time I have to prepare it. Here's the recipe I used tonight:

1 1/4 C basmati rice
2 C chicken stock
a tablespoon or two of oil -- I use coconut
a few carrots, diced (although they're great grated)
half a fennel bulb, diced (although I usually use celery)
a few cloves of garlic, minced
an onion, diced
a few teaspoons of garam masala, whole (not ground)
one bay leaf
a handful of cashews (or two handfuls...if you're feelin' nutty)

Soak the basmati in water for half an hour, if you have time. Sauté the veggies until softened. Add spices and rice until fragrant and coated with oil. Add chicken stock and simmer over low, covered, until rice is cooked. There will be steam holes in the rice when it is finished and the whole cardamom and cloves (from your garam masala) will be resting on top of the rice. Pick them out, along with the bay leaf. Add cashews, fluff the rice, and serve. When I want a hearty meal, I top it with dhal like this one.

Lately I've been straying from this pilaf recipe by using my trusty rice cooker. It's become one of my favorite kitchen appliances -- it's like having a sous chef to keep an eye on my rice! Set it and forget it!

Here it is just before putting it in the rice cooker.

And ready to close the lid on the cooker.

And...voila! Yum. Even my kids say so.


Susi said...

so, what rice cooker can you suggest? I'm gathering experience and deciding if it's worth for us (we usually cook brown rice - does any old rice cooker work, or does it have to be specific for brown rice?)...any ideas?

Hillary Dickman said...

I just have a cheap rice cooker from Target. It does brown rice, wild rice, white rice (sushi or long grain or short grain or whatever). It also does steel cut oats. It has a countdown timer so in the winter I set it to have the oats cooked by the time I get out of bed. It takes some fiddling with the proportions to get it right because the cooker wants to cook the oats into mush instead of porridge consistency. There are some cookers with a "porridge" setting -- I'm sure that makes it easier. I think they cost over $100, though. Mine only cost about $30. Or maybe less. I can't remember. I really didn't want to have another gadget in my kitchen -- I am strongly anti-gadget -- but this one was worth it.