Basmati Rice with Cauliflower and Almonds
I don't have any kids, but if I did, or if I were one, I would imagine that being served purple "trees" would make an otherwise maligned vegetable considerably more appealing. I was never much of a cauliflower fan myself, I always feel that it needs quite a bit of dressing up before it's worth eating. But I thought this recipe was absolutely delicious, and that it was worth it's weight if only for the rice. Unfortunately, although the purple trick might work on children, it does not work as well on 27 year old veggie-phobic fiancés, who only grudgingly eat the cauliflower while devouring the rice. He's like the kid who picks out all the marshmallows from the Lucky Charms and leaves the oat cereal for his sibling.
The dish I came up with began as Robin Asbell's Indian Red Rice Pulao with Pistachio, from her wonderful book The New Whole Grains Cookbook. However, for the red rice, I substituted basmati (which is what I could find, and which Asbell suggests if red rice is not readily available), for the pistachios I substituted ground almonds (not about to slice all of those almonds myself, but grinding is another story, and I didn't find toasting to be necessary) and for the dried currants we had dried raisins. The single biggest flourish I gave it was using purple cauliflower instead of while, which kicked up the aesthetics, but which tastes basically the same. So feel free to use any kind of cauliflower you have, purple, orange, white or even romanesco, on which Almost a Chef has written a great post.
Basmati Pulao with Purple Cauliflower and Almonds
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (want more of a kick? Increase the chili powder!)
1 tablespoon ground tumeric
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cauliflower florets (about half a head)
1/2 cup dried raisins
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 large scallions, sliced
1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
Warm the oil over medium-high heat for a moment in a 2-quart sauce pan. Add the ginger and mustard seeds and cook until you can smell the ginger and the mustard seeds are popping a bit. Add the chili powder and tumeric and cook a brief moment more. Add the water, rice, carrot, brown sugar and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low (very low), cover tightly and cook cook for 35 minutes without peaking.
After 35 minutes, quickly add the cauliflower and the raisins on top, cover again and cook for another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes more, still covered. Next, fold in the lemon juice, garnish with the nuts and scallions and serve.