Recipe name by Larry Andersen

Rice Pilaf

Samarkand

In Spicy Aromatic Oil

Just about anywhere you travel in the Middle-east, the Mediterranean or the Indian sub-continent you will find a local variation of pilaf. In its simplest form it is rice, usually lightly sauted then cooked in a flavored broth. As well it may include meat, vegetables and in some cases fruit. Already extant in Central Asia, pilaf was served to Alexander the Great in Samarkand. His followers brought the dish back to Greece and the Mediterranean. In later centuries Europeans would present the dish to the New World.

Local inhabitants would add to the recipe using foodstuffs from the local area and in many cases became the areas signature version of pilaf. This version, a compilation of many styles really, is reminiscent of pilafs in the Indo-European corridor of Central Asia. A crossroads of commerce, there the saffron, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and turmeric of the east met the cumin and pistachio nuts of the Mediterranean.

Preparation: 1 hour over 2 days Life Experience Recipe
Makes about 4 cups
Spicy Aromatic Oil Ingredients:
  • cup vegetable oil
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper - to taste
Rice Pilaf Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons spicy aromatic oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • Additional 1 clove garlic, minced (if desired)
  • 4 cups chicken broth with a pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 cups shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves, if desired
  • 1/2 cups Sultana raisins
  • Chopped fresh parsley or sliced scallions for garnish
Procedure
  1. Make fragrant oil at least a day before: Add the dried spices to a frying pan. Heat over medium heat until you can smell the fragrance of the spices being released. Add the oil while stirring and cook until the oil is heated. Set aside until cooled. Decant into a sealable container. Allow to settle and clarify at least overnight. The night before, heat the chicken broth and add a pinch of saffron. Remove from heat to cool and then store in the refrigerator overnight.

  2. On pilaf cooking day, add 3 tablespoons of the fragrant oil to a frying pan with a lid. Add the butter, rice, onion and shallots and cook and stir until the rice begins to brown. Add the garlic and fry for an additional 1 or 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth while stirring.

  3. Add the bay leaves if used and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a minimum and cover. Cook for 20 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to steam for 5 minutes.

  4. Remove lid and fluff with a fork and remove the bay leaves. Add the pistachio nuts and raisins, fold in to mix. Allow to set for a few minutes to heat the nuts and raisins. Garnish with the chopped parsley or scallions.
  5. Adding cooked and shredded chicken can transform the pilaf from a side dish to a main dish meal.

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Latest revision done January 2017
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