Merry Christmas my lovely friends!
It is the time of the year to meet your dear ones, and to be together amidst the love and the warm glow of the season. Even though we do not have family here, we have been sharing some wonderful times with our dear friends – who has become our extended family. We are indeed blessed to have so many beautiful friends surrounding us.
I would like to thank each and every one of you who take their time to come over to my space – actively or silently. I really appreciate all the time. It is all the comments and the sweet emails I get that keeps me going and wanting to do more in my kitchen too. Wish you a wonderful time, and all the happiness life can bring. May the shimmer and the lights and the sparkle of the season remain with you always! Thank you again.
I will share a very easy but a very season appropriate recipe today.
The trip to the local market always offer me with at least one nice find. This time it was the red rice. On the bag it said “Christmas Rice“.
The only red rice I have encountered before is Bhutanese Red Rice. I am not sure if this red rice was the same as the Bhutanese rice ( I do not think it was …); but it looked dearly good, was whole grain and it was called the Christmas Rice. I could not but buy it right before Christmas. The grains has the husk on it and the texture of raw grains looked quite like the brown rice except for the color. Unlike white rice, it took a while to cook and had that mild nutty taste similar to the brown rice.
Pilaf, pulav, polao or whatever you may call it, is simply a dish made out of rice, seasonings and versatility to allow you to add whatever you want to.
Today the pilaf or pulao as we usually call it is full of Indian flavors – cloves, cardamom, garam masala, paneer and pomegranates.
Red Rice and Paneer Pilaf
- 1 cup red rice
- 3/4 cup cubed paneer
- 2 tablespoon strained or Greek yogurt (to marinate the paneer)
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped or sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts
- pomegranate seeds, as much as you want
- 8 whole black peppercorn
- 2 cloves
- 2 green cardamom pods, split
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1.5 tablespoons ghee/ butter + 1 tablespoon oil
- chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
Wash the rice till the water runs clear. Drain.
Note: If you are using store bought paneer, I would recommend immersing the cubed paneer in really hot/boiling water for 1-2 minutes. This process softens the cheese and makes it less chewy. Drain and set aside. You will see the difference right away.
Combine yogurt, salt and 1 teaspoon garam masala; whisk and add the paneer cubes to this mix. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Heat a thick bottomed cast iron or non stick skillet; add the 1 tablespoon oil and heat the oil. Place the cubed paneer in single layer and quickly toss them until each side is just about yellowish. Do not cook it too much; paneer gets very chewy if it is overcooked. Set aside.
In another deep pot, add the ghee/butter/oil and add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and whole peppercorn. When the spices start to sizzle, add the chopped onion and cooked till they are transparent. Add the garam masala and cook for about 1/2 a minute.
Add the drained rice and salt. Toss the rice for the ghee and the spices to coat the rice. Cook at medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add 2+1/4 cup water/broth and allow the water to come to a boil. Cover and cook till the rice is tender. (The amount of water/broth and time will depend on the kind of rice and its cooking time; you will have to adjust amount of liquid and the cooking time).
Stir in the paneer, nuts and the chopped fresh cilantro/coriander. Add the pomegranates just before you serve and toss.
Serve warm as a side dish.
If you want to serve this as a main dish, serve with yogurt/raita and salad.