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!
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!