Pilaf is a very popular rice recipe. It is also known as pilau, pulao or pulav in different countries. Rice Pilaf is common to Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Latin American, and Caribbean cuisines. My rice pilaf recipe will be a very simple Indian vegetarian dish. I like rice pilaf because I sometimes get bored of eating plain white rice. Also, I can put as many vegetables as I want in the pilau, making it a very healthy recipe. For this recipe, I used the students’ favorite cooking utensil: RICE-COOKER! I love rice-cookers. They make cooking so easy, very fast and there is very little chance of getting your food burnt, especially when making rice dishes. In home, when cooking rice dishes like briani or rice pilau, my mom usually uses pots with a thick bottom, which prevent the food from burning down. But, as a student, I can only have 1-2 cooking utensils. Argh, how I wish I have my own kitchen soon!
1. I tried many times making rice pilau, and they always ended up too dry or too “mashy”. The trick is to pre-soak your rice and to to put just the right amount of water. The water should be such that it JUST reaches the same level as the rice.
2. One mistake I often made was to go overboard with the amount of rice. The amount to use should be such that you allow space for the rice to expand. For example, if I put so much rice such that it almost levels with the top of the rice cooker, then how is the rice going to cook? There is no space for it to expand/cook!
3. Use boiling water! When adding water to the rice pilau, use boiling water! It helps fluff the rice.
4. Since I am using a rice cooker to cook, I always check that the “cooking” mode is on. If the rice cooker bowl gets too hot, the “cooking” mode will automatically switch to “Already cooked” mode. Just wait for a few seconds before pushing back the button to “cooking” mode.
5. Don’t forget to add salt! I forgot many times to add salt just because I was so concentrated on getting the rice right!
Rice-cooker Vegetable Indian Rice Pilaf recipe
500g long-grain rice, pre-soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
200g black lentils, pre-soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in cubes
handful of french green beans, cut in medium slices
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1. Boil the black lentils until they are soft. Drain and keep.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your other vegetables.
3. Plug in your rice cooker and put it in cooking mode. When the rice cooker bowl is hot enough, add 1-2 tbsps oil.
4. Add the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and bayleaf. Let cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly fragrant.
5. Add the onions and fry until they are soft.
6. Add the french green beans and cook for 3-4 minutes.
7. Add carrots and cook for a further 2 minutes.
8. Add the black lentils, salt to taste, mix and cook for 1-2 minutes.
9. Drain your pre-soaked rice and add to the rice cooker. Mix.
10. Using the back of your spatula, flatten the rice level and add boiling water until it JUST reaches the rice level.
11. Close the lid and make sure the “cooking” mode is on. Let cook until no more steam is seen coming out of the rice cooker nuzzle.
12. Serve your vegetable rice pilau with a spicy Indian curry!