January 20, 2012

Mushroom & Onion Rice Pilaf, w Fresh Mango

Prep Time: 20-25 minutes

1) 1 cup Basmati (long grain) rice. I used white rice on this day, but this recipe works great with brown rice too. Washed well and pre-soaked for 20 min (optional).
2) Whole spices (2-3 bay leaves, 2-5 cloves, 5-8 black peppercorns, 1-3 green cardomoms (cracked), 1-2 black cardamoms (cracked), 1" piece of cinnamon bark, 1 tbsp cumin seeds)
3) 1 large red onion, sliced vertically, so that each layer separates into long slender pieces.
4) 6-10 large while button mushrooms, thinly sliced.
5) 1-2 tsp garam masala (blend of all the above whole spices, sun-dried and finely ground).
6) 1 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable, canola, olive)
7) salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom Pilaf
In a deep stock pot, heat cooking oil and add onions. Cook onion until well caramelized (almost dark brown but not burnt). As the onion approaches done-ness, add the whole spices and then quench the heat completely with 2 cups of cold water. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. This will release a beautiful golden color from the caramelized onions which will color your pilaf a rich gold-brown color too. If you don't like yellow food for some reason, cook onion until translucent and quench heat with water. This will keep the water a pale grey color.

A hit?? 100% !!
Once the water is at a rolling boil, add mushrooms, and rice and mix well. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat to medium low and cover partially. The rice should be done in about 7-12 min. Once the rice is done, sprinkle garam masala on top and replace the lid. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. This is called "Dum" in India. Literally translated, it means 'strength'. It allows the food to deepen its aromas and for the garam masala to release its lovely aroma.

I served the rice by itself, with a side of fresh ripe mangoes. Li'l Nikhil LOVED his dinner. He ate an entire mango and a bowl full of pilaf!

This recipe is a vegan version. In India, folks often use 'Cucumber Raita' as an accompaniment to this dish. Its a simple recipe. Blend a jar of plain yogurt, add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in a freshly grated cucumber. It can also be topped off with ground, roasted cumin, and some chilli powder, for a little extra flavor!! I've never tried making raita with soy yogurt but I don't see why it would taste any different.

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