Who does not love a grain pilaf? – and we have a number of recipes. Each one is a variation on a theme. I love this recipe because it has a smoky flavour from the toasting of the barley and the spices. It is nutty and very delicious. Yoghurt is a common accompaniment, and today we combine tahini with it for a perfect dressing.
It is orange season and so all of our orange recipes come out to add delight to our kitchen menus again. This beautiful pilaf is so good – full of orangey flavours and a visual delight.
We made this recently in one of our late night COVID-19 lockdown cooking sessions, around 10pm after endless zoom meetings. Luckily the rice had been soaked and dried, so the cooking was not a chore. There are no photos for this recipe yet – almost a travesty in this visual era. But we wanted to share it with you and keep it on our blog as a record of our best loved dishes.
When rice forms a major part of a cuisine then there are infinite recipes using rice. Contrast this with cuisines in which it isn’t so important. When growing up, rice was used mainly for rice pudding and an even rarer rice salad. Apart from that it was unusual to have rice with a meal. I guess my mother bought rice only when she wanted to make a pudding – whereas I keep the pantry stocked with 6 – 8 different types of rice. Sticky rice, black and/or red rice, basmati, short grain rice, risotto rice and pongal rice are fairly standard pantry items.
These days I love rice cooked with spices and a vegetable or with lentils. It forms a great addition to any meal, especially Indian meals. It is also a great way to use up any vegetables sitting at the bottom of the fridge on a Friday night – prior to doing the next week’s shopping.
Peas Pulao or Matar Pulao is a popular dish which was made especially during the cooler months in northern parts of India. It can be made in a pressure cooker or rice cooker as well. This is the second version of peas and rice – the spicing is very different in each one.
Freekeh is delicious – it is a roasted, green wheat. It is great in salads and pilafs, and today we combine it with burghul (cracked wheat) for a delicious pilaf. It can be served as is, or chopped or grated vegetables and herbs can be stirred through. Use in place of rice or as an accompaniment for dishes from countries ranging from Afghanistan to Greece.
Rice. Such an essential food around the world, particularly in the countries from the Middle East to India, around to Indonesia, then up through South East Asia, through China, Korea and Japan. Then if you pop through many island countries and parts of Africa, more rice dishes can be found. So many delicious ways with rice.
This is a pilaf flavoured only with saffron and cardamom. Subtle and delicious, with the sweetness of sauteed onions.
Chickpeas go with just about everything, they are so versatile. I love them with pasta and with freekeh. Tonight they are paired with couscous for a beautiful pilaf scattered with pistachios. The nuts add colour and also beautiful textural contrast. I love using pistachios but pinenuts are also superb.
The best thing about this pilaf is it is made in 5 mins if you use pre-cooked or tinned chickpeas.
In the time of COVID-19 we are cooking very simple meals, and our routines have changed dramatically. We often cook late in the evening instead of early in the day. We are adjusting, but like it at a time where the rushed requirements of travelling to meetings, offices, and events have disappeared.
We, like everyone else, are scouring our cupboards and our challenge is really to reduce the amount of food we normally keep. Because I cook all the time we have so much in the pantry, and many ends-of-packets that haven’t been used up.
So today it is coarse burghul‘s turn. We cook this in a simple but special way – with butter and olive oil – then we let it steam off the heat for up to 20 mins. It is the way we love to cook it. Note that it needs different handling to the finer burghuls that are available. If you have never explored different styles of burghul, head down to your local Middle Eastern or Afghan grocery.
Anyway then we mix the cooked burghul with some cooked beetroot and eggplant, and toss through some gremolata. A worthy dish indeed. A plate of incredible tones of deep pink and purple—lurid colours indeed, but such warming, and super tasty flavours.
Pilafs, pulaos, pulau, mixed rice dishes – many names for a delicious technique for smartening up a plain grain (usually rice) to use as a flavoursome side dish. It can be simple – just a few spices added – or a complex layering of flavours. They are usually without a dressing although they are sometimes topped with a dollop of yoghurt. Today we bring you a collection of our favourite pilaf recipes.
Winter brings more substantial salads – no more Summery cubes of tomatoes tossed with cubes of cucumber and a layer of red onion rings. Enter salads with noodles, grains, lentils, dried beans. Barley, freekeh, chickpeas – all perfect during winter.
Today’s salad uses Burghul or Freekeh. I really recommend exploring your local Middle Eastern shop for their varieties of Burghul – there are at least half a dozen. Select one type that you want to experiment with. There are several varieties of Freekeh too, and you can mix Freekeh and Burghul together if you like.
This salad, almost a pilaf, is tremendous, and the combination of lemon, mustard, garlic and crunch of nuts makes it. It is based on a Bittman Salad. For three years (2016 – 2018) we had a project of cooking through his 101 salads, and this one is in the 90’s. We made all of the vegetarian ones and modified as many of the non-vegetarian ones as possible. After making so many salads, we became committed daily salad eaters.
Similar dishes incude Burghul, Walnut and Yoghurt Salad with Pomegranate, Burghul and Chickpea Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Burghul, Walnut and Tomato Salad, Quick Burghul Salad, Cauliflower and Burghul Kitchari and Mung Bean and Burghul Kitchari.
Also check out Delightful Pilaf Recipes.
You can check all of our Bittman Salads here. All of our Burghul dishes are here, our Freekeh dishes are here, and all of our many many Salads are worth browsing. Or eat seasonally and explore our Early Winter dishes.
Everyone loves fragrant rice – basmati and jasmine rice are two of the best known. There are others too, you might see them occasionally or search some out. Currently I am working with the short grain fragrant rice called Ambe Mohar.
This recipe adds warming (not hot) flavours to the rice with cloves and cardamom. It is a simple recipe, and many slight variations of it abound. It is also in Ottolenghi’s book Nopi, so I will claim it for inclusion in our Ottolenghi Cook from the Books project. I have adjusted his recipe a little. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.