Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mixed vegetable pilaf with Shahjeera

Pilaf is common to many cuisines. A typical pilaf consists of aromatics and vegetables, sauteed in some fat and then the rice is mixed in with water. You bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer till done. When I make pilaf's with onions, especially red onions, the pilaf turns a dark brown due to the browned onions. So, this time I decided to saute the onions separately and use the remaining oil from the sauteed onions, to cook the pilaf. Once done, I mix in the sauteed onions at the end. I achieved in making a not so brown pilaf and also since the onions were not cooked in with the pilaf, they had their crispy texture intact. I also added shahjeera - the royal spice, which I had mentioned in an earlier post with paneer  - it adds a beautiful fragrance to the pilaf.

Mixed Vegetable Pilaf

1 1/2 cup Basmati Rice (I like the Tilda brand)
2 cups mixed vegetables (corn, peas, and carrots) I used the Cascadian farm frozen bags, thawed and drained off the excess water
2 cups chopped red onion
3 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon shahjeera (also known as black cumin seeds - should not be mixed up with nigella seeds or kalonji)
1 black cardamom, cracked to expose the seeds (it has a stronger fragrance than green cardamoms)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups room temperature water (If the water is cold, it will take a long time to boil and the rice will become soft)
  1. Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, with 3 tablespoons canola oil. Add the chopped onions and saute over medium high heat till the onions are brown and crisp. [If you are not averse to deep frying, you could also deep fry these onions and use a tablespoon of the onion flavored oil to cook the pilaf.] Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and set aside on a kitchen towel to drain off the excess oil.
  2. Heat the remaining oil and add the shahjeera and the black cardamom and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the rice and mix till all the grains are coated with the oil. Add the vegetables and salt and toss well. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Then cover the pan and simmer for 12 minutes. Let the rice rest for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, add the sauteed onions and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve with a raita.
Serves 4

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