Friday, March 5, 2010

Simple Rice Pilaf

I tried cooking Rice Pilaf yesterday. It was my first attempt and it was awful. I used cumin instead of cardamom! Oh dear. I am not particularly fond of the the taste of cumin, so I sometimes wonder how it ever ended up in my larder.

Anyway, it serves me right for not labeling my herbs and spices, knowing full well that I always get them mixed up. The three that perpetually get me confused are cumin, cardamom and coriander (seeds). The confusing 3Cs. I know that all look distinctly different. But in my eyes, they are a set of identical triplets which I cannot differentiate. And if you really wanted to torture me, throw fennel into the works now, thank you very much.

That's why I always had admiration for my father. He could distinguish any herb or spice or fruit or plant or tree effortlessly. Me? I still can't tell Chinese Celery from Chinese Parsley!

Anyway, back to the Pilaf. It's actually really easy to make this dish. It's like cooking fried rice - no hard and fast rules, add what you like.


First, get some Basmati Rice. I used 2 cups (the plastic cup which comes with your rice cooker).



Dice a big yellow onion.


The spices (from left to right): Cumin (1/4 tsp), bay leaves, turmeric powder (1/4tsp). I will use cardamom in place of cumin next time.


Pistachios (leftover from Chinese New Year) and raisins. You can use cashews too. I will be trying out cashews the next time.

Fry the onions in butter until they soften and turn translucent. Add in the washed* rice grains and coat them thoroughly in the fat.
* The instructions on the packet said to soak the grains first, which I did, for about 30mins, but I felt that it wasn't necessary. In fact, it made the rice a little too soft for my liking. I would suggest just washing and cooking the rice immediately like you normally would.

Pour everything into the rice cooker and add water. Some people use stock in place of water but I wanted this to be vegetarian. Throw in the spices, 1/4 tsp salt and cook.

To serve, sprinkle with nuts and raisins. I notice that if you add the nuts in too early, they soften and lose their crunch. Similarly, if you add your raisins as the rice is cooking, they tend to stain some of the grains black. Not pretty.

As usual, I have to contend with impatient tots and prying hands whenever I take photos.


Ready, get set, go!


Inching closer.


He grabs a pistachio!


Nom nom nom. Oh surprisingly, my little one enjoyed the Pilaf! He managed to finish up a small bowl, with extra raisins. I was happy to see that.


Oh well, it will turn out better the next time. It always does. Cardamom, not cumin! Doh!

Anyone with an excellent vegetarian Pilaf recipe, please share it with me. :) Thank you!

52 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh..I love this post..who cares if it was cumin? when you have Cupid?:)

    Ju... Edible child..I love that neck:) and the little nose:)Oh so cute!

    And the rice looks good..too:)
    But you know what they say about children? they steal the show..
    You photographed the hands and the face to perfection~
    Nana.

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  2. Hi Ju, how you doin'? first of all your photos here are like 3D. They practically jump out of the screen.
    You certainly take great pictures....what camera you using?
    Fantastic shots!

    I have never eaten this particular dish, but it sure looks finger lickin' delicious.
    Allow me to say, there is nothing more appealing on this planet than a beautiful mother, wife in the act of cooking for her loved ones...
    And especially she uses the ingredients called, 'Love'.

    Outstanding, Ju. Can see you earned your Black Belt in cooking!
    You have a nice day, stay beautiful and keep a song in your heart. Best regards, Lee.

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  3. A lovely pilaf (I love cumin!) - if you use cardmon, what a heavenly result you will have!

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  4. Oh, your son is too cute. I love the little candid shots of him. I haven't had pilaf in a long time. I love cumin, so I would eat up your dish (after removing the pistachio haha).

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  5. I LOVE those little hands....yes and neck too! LOL totally edible as Monique says :D

    the pilaf looks good to me...cumin , cardomom...who cares..a spice is a spice no? im with you withe the parsely n celery thing...they look like identical twins...and fish ....ALL fish used to be the same to me when I was in my early twenties....each time I go to market i wld feel like I just had a lobotomy.

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  6. Your little one is so cute! And oh, I love pilaf!

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  7. I am bringing my bowl with me

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  8. Oh Ju they are such cute photos, they really lighten up my day! The dish looks good too! you might want to try using clarified butter instead, it makes a big difference when it comes to pilaf :) Enjoy your weekend!

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  9. how adorable!! the fun of feeding kids is seeing them finish it!

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  10. Your kid little hands are cute !! very nice candid shots! This rice is perfectly with my Ayam masak merah...yummy..

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  11. oh..your pics are great with the pair of little hands...reaching out to the yummy dish...

    Clever!

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  12. How cute! Great recipe and fantastic pictures as always :)

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  13. That looks simple and delicious. I love the yellow colour...looks so refreshing. Your son is so adorable!

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  14. It looks delicious and very easy to do.
    See soon.

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  15. I love the fragrant aroma of basmati rice. The color is beautiful.

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  16. The boy saves the day! It is immensely satisfying to see kids enjoying the food you cook - that in itself is priceless :)

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  17. I don't label my spices too - they are in their bottle so it's labeled. ;) Whenever my MIL cooks at my house, she'll say 'why don't you label them on top.' LOL If I'm not sure of the spice, I just open them and smell. :)

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  18. Never tried pilaf rice before but can tell from your son reaction ;DD

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  19. Nice cooking blog, I can't cook but I like foods! ^.^

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  20. I love basmatti rice, its the only kind i ever use. I love the little goodies you put in your rice. I would pick out and eat the pistachios too. Your rice looks awesome.
    Have a fab weekend.
    *kisses* HH

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  21. Your boy is so adorable!! LOL! I really love how you went about describing the entire process of him snatching pistachios from the plate of pilaf rice! Oh, that's really a pile of gold! Look how golden it turns out! No worries, Ju! 失敗仍是成功之母, right? I'm sure it's gonna turn out perfect eventually! ;)

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  22. I love pilaf rice and no wonder your boy said "yum, yum". Must have been the raisins! Any way I mix up my spices as well.

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  23. Ju the rice looks delicious...but that face...those cheeks and hands...even more delicious!
    L~xo

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  24. Your pilaf looks wonderful, and I know it is. I make something similar with sultanas. It's always a simple treat.

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  25. I would say that adding cumin might have enhanced the flavor of pilaf. In some parts of India, we add cumin for such kind of rice preparations :-)In fact there is a cumin rice itself..I agree with you that cardamom gives another flavor and I like that too ....This looks scrumptious

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  26. Well, whaddaya know! The past several days I was just thinking of making pilaf (from one of my Indian recipe books) and was looking for basmati rice but unfortunately the supermarket I went to didn't sell any. I think even with cumin (which I love!), your pilaf would still tastes as good. I agree that fennel and cumin are confusing but I've memorized their looks now. Cumin is darkish grey and smaller, and fennel is lighter (whitish greenish) and larger. Worry not, you'll conquer them one day ;).

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  27. HAHA JU I could not stop laughing at the clenched fingers slowly inching towards the ball of pilaf, I would always try to pick little niblets as my mother wasnt looking :) He is one cute kid I must say. My fiance has the same problem, one time he added Lavender into chili instead of cumin...it tasted interesting...to say the least hahaha

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  28. lol so cute, I want to grab some of that too. and how can you not like cumin?!

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  29. OH, Ju, that little one is so cute. Could you send him over this way for a few weeks? I promise to feed him pilaf...

    This looks very good and so easy! I'm imagining pistachios and cardamom. That gets two YUMS up from me!

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  30. Your posts are always so much fun to read! And those photos are hilarious. I think the pilaf looks incredibly appetizing, cumin or not! I don't know if this is a "real" pilaf, but I do one with jasmine rice, curry leaves (which I saute), and cracked black pepper, and I use sub 1/2 coconut milk for water.

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  31. What I always do when I do this is to get that bundle pack of spices for Malay's Sup Tulang(Beef ribs soup).http://www.adabi.com.my/pg_soup_bouquet_gunny.htm There's a little bit of everything in there, so I don't waste money in buying big packs of the spices (and i don't need to keep the excess). I discard the spices wrapped in the cloth and use those cardamoms, cinnamon, aniseed and whatever left. Those in the muslin cloth are fennel, cumin and coriander, I guess, the smaller spices.
    I guess Singapore will have Adabi products too.

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  32. Hi Wendy, I don't need to go through that trouble. My market sells spices in very small quantities for 50-cents a packet, all nicely vacuum packed. I just need to write the names of the spice on the packets. But I was too lazy.

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  33. me too, I prefer cardamon to cumin. Your rice still looks yummy nevertheless, reminds me a bit of briyani rice!

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  34. I love my pilaf with lotsa raisins! And your little one is definitely going to be one welleducated foodie! Plus, he'll be an extra cute one too!

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  35. I love the shots of your little bub! How adorable. And the rice does remind me of briyani!

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  36. I looove pilaf :) I would add cumin AND cinnamon... Just because I like to get al little crazy with spices! Your version looks so yummy! I shouldn't have read this at lunch time. I have a huge rice craving now!

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  37. Love pilaf and I usually have both cumin and cardamom in it.....cumin is one of my fave spices....love it (dry roasted and crushed) with orange zest on icecream!!!

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  38. Nice! I would imagine the saltiness of the rice and the sweetness of the raisins plus the richness from the pistachio nuts... mm must be good..

    actually what cuisine is it though?

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  39. Adoro il riso pilaf e questa riceta la voglio assolutamente provare. buona domenica, un abbraccio Daniela.

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  40. I was going to post something on veg biryani in the coming weeks!

    I like cumin and used it to season my salmon :)

    I like the aroma of cardamon but do not like it when I bite on the real thing - bitter......:O

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  41. Ju,
    I've got an award for u on my blog :)
    Pls come to collect it.

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  42. Ju! That picture where your son is ready to pounce on the pilaf is adorable! It's too bad you got the herbs wrong (I would have made the same mistake) but it looks like the little boy enjoyed it nonetheless!

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  43. Looks great! Will cumin really ruin the taste?

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  44. SK: No, it won't. But it does for me, cos I don't like cumin! ;)

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  45. hehe...I love cumin, esp. as a rubbing.
    The pilaf doesn't look bad at all.

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  46. Hey ju, haven't been able to visit for awhile, as always... amazing photos... how do you make common items look sooo good???

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  47. I love basmati; your dish looks delicious! I recommend reading a book by Najmieh Batmanglish about Persian cuisine she explains how to cook basmati over pages and pages of detailed explanations; her rice comes out looking like a cake, something the Persians call tahdig

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  48. That's so funny.
    Cumin tatse good but with specific flavor combinaitons. It doesn't work with everything.
    A tip for telling wich is cardamom and which is coriander; They might look the same but cardamom smells sweeter.
    I sometimes use turmeric, yellow and powdery and has little flavor, to make the rice look yellow.
    I love fried rice!
    Hmm, I think it's what I'll make today. I have some leftovers rice...

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  49. I am in agreement...those cute little fingers steal the delectable show!!

    I understand about cumin. I used to like it and then I ground some in my blender and it took me FOREVER to get the smell out! Then my son described cumin in a way that I can't get out of my head! I won't go into detail, because I don't want to give anyone else the visual. Ju, you'd probably get it though :-)

    Thanks for the smiles today.

    Diane

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  50. I have not try this before it must be fun! :)

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  51. LOL..yeah cardamon is quite different from cumin. Thanks for the recipe. I have never attempt to make rice pilaf because my friend makes it so well and always makes it for us. I should give it try and let her try it.

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