I have just come back from two amazing weeks in India. Despite the short visiting time and spending a fair few of those days in foetal position, unable to look at food, I was exposed to some amazing meals and dishes. I tried to immerse myself entirely and for most days ate Indian for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whilst I probably couldn’t stomach a breakfast curry back home in Sydney, there are some other insights that I would like to bring back, namely, exciting spiced rice. Everywhere you go in India, you order your main dishes with a side of rice. While you can opt for plain rice, you also have the option of ordering pilau, biryani, chawal, yellow rice and kitchri.
Jazzing up rice is something I rarely do at home however I discovered it really doesn’t take much extra time and effort. Plus added spices to your rice only equates to added nutrition to your meal. If you can, use organic rice. When we visited Hampi, we stayed in this amazing guesthouse which was surrounded by beautifully green rice fields. This image was somewhat interrupted with the reality of men trudging through the fields spraying and ingesting huge amounts of pesticide spray. Seeing this process so vividly made me realise how much of those chemicals we would consequently consume via our rice – it definitely confirmed the benefits of organic rice for me.
So try this recipe and if you don’t have all the ingredients, just be creative with what you have in your cupboard.
Indian Pilau (serves 5-6)
Preparation time: 5 minutes, cooking time: 20 minutes
½ teaspoon saffron strands
2 ½ cups of long grain organic rice
2 tablespoons ghee
4 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons sultanas
2 tablespoons blanched sliced almonds
2 tablespoons blanched pistachios
Soak the saffron strands in ½ teaspoon of boiling water for 10 minutes. Whilst they are soaking, heat the ghee in a heavy saucepan and gently fry the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns for 2 minutes. Add rice and continue stirring for about 2-3 minutes so that each grain is coated with the ghee. Add 4 cups of hot water, salt, soaked saffron strands and liquid and the orange rind. Stir well and bring to the boil. Then, turn the heat down very low, cover pan with a lid and cook for 20 minutes. After this time, add the sultanas, replace lid and cook for a further 5 minutes. Served garnished with almonds and pistachios and enjoy solo or as an accompaniment with a curry. Enjoy!