Pilaf is essentially ‘fancy rice’ and is a dish that exists in many forms across different cultures. It usually involves cooking rice in stock or broth with whole fragrant spices like bay, cardamom and cinnamon. Pilaf is usually made with meat or vegetables, although it can also be enjoyed plain. Additions of nuts and dried fruit add textural complexity to the dish. An essential step in preparing perfect pilaf is toasting the rice grains – this creates a slightly nutty flavour while also keeping the rice grains firm and separate. The end result: fluffy, textured and flavour-packed rice that is miles better than the regular boiled version we’ve grown accustomed to.
HANDS-ON TIME 25 min | TOTAL TIME 1 hr 45 min | SERVES 4
VEGETARIAN | HEALTHY
500 grams butternut, cut into 1.5 cm thick half-moon slices
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
40 grams chopped almonds
40 grams chopped Brazil nuts
2 tsp baharat spice
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 litre vegetable stock
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
200 grams mixed bean sprouts
1/2 cup dill sprigs
1/2 cup parsley leaves
3/4 cup double-cream yoghurt or vegan yoghurt
PREHEAT the oven to 200°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
TOSS butternut with 2 tsp of the oil and space evenly on the prepared tray. Roast for 30 minutes or until golden and tender.
MEANWHILE, heat the remaining oil in a pot over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and nuts, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until onion is soft. Add baharat spice and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
ADD the rice to the pan and stir for 2 minutes to toast. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and cook the rice for a further 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
REMOVE from heat and stir in the pumpkin seeds, half the sprouts and half the herbs. Cover pilaf and set aside for 10 minutes to steam. Season well.
PLACE pumpkin on a platter. Top with the pilaf and remaining sprouts and herbs. Finish with dollops of yoghurt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
Tip from the team: Make your own baharat spice mix by combining 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper, 2 tsp each ground nutmeg and paprika, 1 tsp each ground coriander, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cumin and salt and 1/4 tsp ground cardamom.
ALSO SEE: Greek-style baked brinjal