Monday, February 4, 2013

Brown-and-Wild Rice Pilaf with Date Chutney

Tonight I'm making a two-part recipe: first chutney, and then a pilaf to go along with it.  Chutney is often served as a condiment to pilafs or dals in Indian cuisine, and this one features a combination of sweet dates and spicy jalapeno.

For the Date Chutney:
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until thick and smooth.  The chutney will keep well in the fridge up to 2 days.

If you don't feel like preparing the pilaf recipe that follows, the chutney is delicious on sandwiches with vegan cream cheese, for a spin on cream cheese-and-jelly filling:

The chutney will also liven up any number of grain dishes, from simple couscous:

to a store-bought raisin and lentil pilaf:

The sweet dates were also an excellent foil to the saltiness of tabbouleh:

Nutrition Info:
16 servings (1 tablespoon), Calories 33

If you're interested in the pilaf, read on.

  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 and 1/4 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 recipe Date Chutney
  • 6 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds*
1. Combine the water, wild rice, salt, and turmeric in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the basmati rice and return the mixture to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.

2. Stir in the green peas and cook for a final 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

3. Spoon about 3/4 cup rice mixture onto each of 6 plates.  Top each serving with about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons onion, about 2 and 1/2 tablespoons chutney, and 1 tablespoon almonds.

*Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes, while stirring or shaking frequently to prevent the nuts from burning.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (3/4 cup rice, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons onion, 2 and 1/2 tablespoons chutney, 1 tablespoon almonds), Calories 383

Tasting Notes:
The pilaf on its own is rather bland, but it is the toppings that make this dish quite good and very different. The onions are sweet and oily (in a good way), and the crunch of the toasted almonds is a great foil to the tender rice. I would roast the almonds in the oven next time, for even more pronounced flavor. But the best part by far is the chutney. It thickens as it sits, so by the time you spoon it onto each plate, it is a rich combination of sweet dates and tart lemon.  A "4" for the chutney alone, a slightly lower rating overall since, for this recipe to be exceptional, the pilaf itself would need more flavor.

Update: As I discovered with leftovers, the best way to eat this, for maximum flavor and effect, is just to stir it all together into one big delicious mess.


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