(Recipe courtesy of Indian Superfood by Gurpareet Bains)
This is pretty much the basic pilau recipe my Mum fed me on from a young age. It was how I thought all rice was made until I was much older. In fact, Punjabis possess a queer snobbery for their pilau recipe. Rather peculiar, considering we have never been the traditional connoisseurs of rice. I remember my grandmother was once served plain boiled rice. She threw it back at her servants, saying that boiled rice was for the labourers and not for her. Even my Mum would ‘snarl’ at rice cooked in any other way than the traditional Punjabi method, saying the pure white grains of boiled rice would remind her of teeth and, therefore, put her off her dinner.
For a people who rarely eat rice, the Punjabi obsession with their pilau is nothing short of baffling. But, once you experience its multifaceted flavours, you will be able to appreciate, just a little, where the burning passion takes root from. Like most of their foods, it’s very satisfying indeed; enough so that you can even enjoy it by itself with just a knob of butter or a dollop of natural yogurt.
I remember it was the first rice dish I taught myself to cook when leaving home. It took me years to get it right, so, I thought I’d share it with you. You can also throw in a few black cardamom pods for added depth of flavour – I remember Mum doing
so on special occasions. The superfood twist is brought into full swing with the inclusion of ruby-coloured goji berries which add loads of vitamin C, as well as a wonderful and slightly fruity, almost tea like flavour.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
a small handful of dried goji berries
a handful of green peas (fresh or frozen)
Pour the olive oil into a deep saucepan, add the cinnamon stick and cumin seeds and cook over a low-medium heat until the seeds begin to pop – this should take no more than 2–3 minutes. Add the onion and cook until it is soft, stirring frequently –
this should take no more than 5 minutes. As soon as the onion is soft, add the carrot and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Place the onion mixture, rice, salt and 1 ¾ cup boiling water into a large microwave safe bowl and mix with a fork.
Microwave, uncovered, for 4 minutes on HIGH at 700W, or for 31/2 minutes on HIGH at 800W or for 3 minutes on HIGH at 900W.
Mix with a fork. Microwave, uncovered, for a further 4 minutes on HIGH at 700W, or for a further 31/2 minutes on HIGH at 800W, or for a further 3 minutes on HIGH at 900W.
Mix with a fork. Cover the bowl and microwave for a further 4 minutes on HIGH at 700W, or for a further 31/2 minutes on
HIGH at 800W, or for a further 3 minutes on HIGH at 900W.
Take the pilau out of the microwave, add the goji berries and peas on top of the rice and leave it to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork and serve
One serving =
Antibacterial – cinnamon, cumin
Antifungal – cinnamon, cumin
Antiviral – cinnamon
Anti-inflammatory – cinnamon, cumin