Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Spicy Rice Pilaf (Pilau Masala) & Carrot Rice (Carrot Sadam)

America's Test Chicken consists of two separate chickens, each with her own take on this cooking thing. Check out Chicken One's related blog, A Travel for Taste where she shares travel stories and recipes collected whenever she ventures abroad. And give Chicken Two's new, also-related blog, Poop from the Coop a read. There you can find stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Please join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.
The complete recipes appear at the end of this post.

From Chicken One:  
Spicy Rice Pilaf (Pilau Masala)

If you've been following this blog, you know that America's Test Chicken is all about trying things in the kitchen that intimidate us. At the beginning of this year we delved into Indian cuisine, covering everything from vindaloo to tandoori.

This time each Chicken chose a rice dish from India. You might know them as pilaf, which is variously spelled pilau or pulao in India.

Pilaf/pilau is defined by perfuming some oil with spices before sauteeing rice in the oil. After that, the rice is cooked in a standard way.

My pilau is from northern India and is referred to as Pilau Masala, which really just means spicy rice.

My recipe comes from Indian Harvest by Vikas Khanna, although it does appear in Indian Cooking Unfolded by Raghavan Iyer with slight variation - plus hundreds more recipes online. This rice is a wonderful side dish to curry or alone as a main dish.

The ingredients are simple and beautiful:
Cloves, cardamom and bay leaf perfume the oil, then onions are added:
And finally the rice. After the rice sautes, you can either cook uncovered until the rice is tender, or you can cover it and steam it til done. I cooked this batch uncovered per the recipe, but I think next time I'll steam it. I know the method better, and I won't have to keep adding liquid and tending it so closely.
The word 'perfume' truly is the description for this! The flavor is very light and subtle, and the scent is sweet. It reminds me of the cinnamon rice-and-raisins I had as a child. This pilau, however, is not sweet at all, just lusciously savory.

It's easily converted to vegetarian by using vegetable stock or plain water, though I used chicken stock (of course!).

I added the split chickpeas per the recipe, and they provide lots of protein for vegetarian types. Besides, I had some left over from the puran poli recipe. However, you can leave those out, too, if you like. I think lentils would work just as well.

Oh, man, now I'm hungry!
From Chicken Two:
Carrot Rice (Carrot Sadam)
There seem to be many versions of this tasty dish so I picked the simpler version that can be made quickly as a side or even a main dish. It originates from southern India and is often used as a lunch to pack in the kids' lunch box.  I take that to mean it can be served hot or cold.
Just a few ingredients that include peanuts, onion, ginger and carrots.  You'll find the recipe below.

I just want to point out that the jar of basmati rice (above) used to be full! We've been cooking (and eating) a lot of Indian dishes lately and that usually calls for rice!!
The recipe says grate the carrots, but I only had small ones in the fridge so I ground them instead. Improvise, I say!
This version calls for margarine to sauté the vegetables and spices, but I used ghee. You can also use a healthy oil as a substitute.
This is a very tasty dish, somewhat nutty and I will definitely cook it again, possibly as the main course with a salad or green veggie. I have some left over, so I'm going to try it cold too....I figure the kids must like it if it's so common!

Give it a try! Enjoy! 

Pilau Masala (Spicy Rice Pilaf)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 whole pods cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup split chickpeas (chana dal), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • salt to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute bay leaf, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon for 1 minute. Add onion and saute another 2 to 3 minutes til soft.
  2. Add chickpeas and cook 2 minutes, stirring.
  3. Add in rice and saute another 2 minutes.
  4. Add stock, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until moisture is absorbed and rice and chickpeas are just tender.
  5. Serve hot. 

Carrot Rice (Carrot Sadam)

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon margarin
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots
  • salt to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh cilantro
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid, and allow to steam until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. While rice is cooking, grind peanuts in a blender and set aside. Heat the margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned golden brown about 10 minutes. Stir in ginger, carrots, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and cover to steam 5 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper and peanuts. When rice is done, add it to skillet and stir gently to combine with other ingredients. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

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