Recipes: Rice Dishes

Uzbek Carrot Palove with Cumin

(adapted from Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journeyclick here to purchase)

8 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup blanched, raw almonds, peanuts, or pine nuts
1 cup currants
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 bell pepper, seeded and shredded
1 Thai bird or Serrano chili, seeded and chopped, or 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 cups long-grain Indian white basmati rice, washed and checked for stones
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric, or 1/2 tsp. saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp. hot water
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 cups water
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, or basil

In a wok or medium-sized nonstick pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the almonds and currants and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Using the same wok, heat the remaining oil over medium heat, add the cumin, and cook for 10 seconds, until aromatic (keep a cover handy to catch any seeds that might fly out). Add the onion and fry for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Add the carrots, bell pepper, chili, and rice and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, salt, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring gently once with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed and the rice grains separate easily.

Remove the wok from the heat and add the almonds, currants, and chopped cilantro. Fluff the rice gently with a fork. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with any tomato-and-cucumber salad.

Variation: For Afghan Qabeli Pilau, add 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, and 2 black cardamom seeds.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Makes 4 servings

“Creamy Rice”

2 cups long-grain rice
Two onions, chopped
Oil for sautéing
1 3/4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
2 cups of soy, rice, or nut milk
Additional 3/4 cup of water

Clean and wash the rice until the water runs clear. Drain. Sauté the onions in oil. Add the salt to the water and bring to a boil. Add the soy milk and additional water to the boiling water, then add the rice and onions. Boil until soft and purée-like.


1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed, or 1 can (19 oz.)
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 cup dried brown or white rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups water
Soy yogurt (optional)

If not using canned lentils, cook dry lentils in 3 cups water until tender for 45 minutes, then drain. Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, cumin seeds, and rice. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly so spices don’t burn. Add salt and water, bring to a boil, and cover, cooking for 40 minutes for brown rice, 15 minutes for white. Remove from heat, and keep covered for 10 minutes. Stir cooked or canned lentils into rice, and add salt to taste. Serve garnished with soy yogurt, if desired.


Sweet Rice

1/2 tsp. saffron threads
3 cardamom pods, cracked
2 tbsp. rose water
2 cups long-grain rice, washed
1 tsp. salt
3 cups water
1/2 cup date or ordinary syrup
2 tbsp. oil

Soak the saffron and cracked cardamom pods in the rose water for at least 10 minutes. Add the rice and salt to the boiling water, cover and simmer for 6 minutes. Drain well. Carefully turn the syrup into the drained rice. Swirl the oil around the bottom and sides of the rice pot and add the syruped rice. Sprinkle with the rose water mixture. Place a clean tea towel between the pot and the lid, then steam the rice on very low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.

Rice with Nuts

2 cups long-grain rice, washed
1 tsp. salt
3 cups water
1 cup pistachios, almonds, cashews and/or pine nuts
2 Tbsp. oil

Add rice and salt to boiling water. When water returns to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to a slow simmer for 15 minutes. Check rice for tenderness and absorption. Do not stir! If the water has not been absorbed, simmer for a further 5 minutes. If rice is not tender, add a little water, if required, and continue to simmer. Remove skins of almonds by pouring boiling water over the nuts and then rinsing in cold water. To remove skins of pistachios and leave nut with its green color, blanch first in salted water then treat as you would almonds. Sauté nuts in oil until golden and sprinkle over the cooked rice before serving.

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