Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spiced Brown Basmati Pilaf

I started off this month with a rice dish (see post for Lemon Risotto with Asparagus), which required a medium-grain rice like Arborio, capable of absorbing large quantities of liquid.  I plan to feature several other rice dishes over the next few days, to highlight how versatile this staple can be.

Pilaf is similar to risotto, in that rice soaks up a lot of liquid, but if risotto is a labor of love, requiring almost constant stirring, pilaf is for lovers of ease.  Bring the ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer unattended until the liquid is absorbed.  Long-grain rices such as basmati are more suited to the pilaf style, as a result.  Using brown basmati gives this dish a nutty flavor, along with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  This recipe would also be great with red rice - a nutty, chewy variety that yields a heartier, more rustic version.

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins*
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 28 ounces vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in the rice, raisins, cloves, and cinnamon stick.

2. Add the water, tomato paste, salt, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.  Brown rice normally takes about 50 minutes in a 2:1 liquid-to-rice ratio, but because there is more liquid in this dish, plan on it taking longer than that. 

3. Let stand for 5 minutes before discarding the cloves and cinnamon stick; sprinkle with the pistachios.

Make your pilaf the center of the meal, or a side dish to your favorite Gardein chicken.

*Choose a brand like International Harvest, which sells naturally golden hunza raisins, which aren't treated with sulfur dioxide.

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (about 3/4 cup), Calories 205

Tasting Notes:
Well darn, there's definite potential here, but I'd make a rather significant change next time.  I really didn't like the tomato paste in combination with the cinnamon, clove, and golden raisin; next time I'd stick with the sweet elements of this dish, and save the tomato paste for a more savory pilaf.  The nuttiness of the brown rice is also quite powerful, and I think I'd prefer it with white basmati, even though - I know, I know - it's not quite as nutritious.  Make those tweaks and this will become a keeper.


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