Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rice Pilaf, another version: for the stuffed chicken rolls

This sumptuous rice makes an elegant side dish for meats and stews, and is a perfect bed for a layer of grilled shish kebobs, or the stuffed chicken breast rolls I recently posted on the blog (3/26/08). This is one of many ways of preparing a rice pilaf, and is more in the Arab style with some pasta included with the rice. Also, while this can be made vegetatian, cooking the rice with chicken broth -- homemade strongly preferred -- gives a richness that is delightful. In the Middle East, the amount of butter or olive oil in the pilaf would be greater.

The rice I prefer is Basmati, the long-grained fluffy rice from India and Pakistan. However, Uncle Ben's rice can be used, one of the few ways I ever use that rice. (It has been exported to the Middle East for decades, and is authentically used for pilaf there.)

The recipe makes enough for six.

Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruits and Nuts Tim

1-1/2 cups basmati (or other long-grain) rice (or Uncle Ben's)
1/4 cup orzo pasta or vermicelli broken in 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil for the pasta
2-3/4 cups unsalted chicken broth or water
3/4 teaspoon salt for the rice plus 1/4 teaspoon for the vegetables
1 small onion
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil for onion
1/4 cup walnuts or shelled pistachios
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup yellow raisins
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped dill, cilantro (coriander) leaf, or mint

Rinse and drain the rice several times. Set it aside to dry a little while doing the next steps. Fry the orzo or vermicelli in 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil, stirring frequently until beginning to turn golden. Add the orzo to the rice in a pot with a tight-fitting lid (or use an electric rice cooker). Add the broth or water plus 3/4 teaspoon salt. If using a pot, bring it to a boil, then cover tightly, reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer 20 minutes without opening the lid. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest 10 more minutes without opening. (If using rice cooker, let the rice rest, covered, 10 minutes or more after light goes off.)

Place 2 tablespoons butter or oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Mince the onion and stir it in to fry until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the walnuts, coarsely chopped, or the pistachios, whole, and fry gently another two minutes. Add cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Add the frozen peas and fry just long enough to heat them. Add the raisins, stirring in for 15-20 seconds. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and the chopped herb.

In a very large bowl, combine the hot cooked rice with the fried mixture, using large spoons to fluff everything together, handling carefully so as not to break up the rice grains. Taste and if desired add some more salt or lemon juice. Mix again. Keep hot to serve (in the rice cooker, for example). Or let cool and reheat in the microwave. Serve on a platter stacked up in a cone-shaped mound if the rice is to be served on its own. Or spread it into a bed if the rice is to be topped with kebabs or roasted meats.

Note: Yogurt is often served with pilaf in Turkey and Greece.


Blogger norza said...

I am a Celebrity Chef from Malaysia. And I must say u have a great blog here. In fact, your blog title - Jintan Manis - is a very famous spice in Malay cooking. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for an Arab-style rotisserie. All the best to u!!

5:23 AM  

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