Rice sauteed in oil then cooked in broth is pilaf. There are no rules on what else you can add. For the most basic recipe, I like combining nuts and raisins to make the wonderful blend of savory, crunch and sweet.
I’ve been cooking pilaf long before I came across the word. There was a time when we went loco over mussels and we often had excess broth. So I’d cook rice in mussel broth. My daughters loved it! I didn’t know I was making pilaf because, at that time, I hadn’t heard of pilaf in my entire life.
Pilaf is a savory fluffy rice dish so you have to use a rice variety that fluffs well. That means long-grain rice which has less starch so that the grains don’t clump together during cooking. There are several varieties of long grain rice but basmati is my favorite.
Choose your flavor base. Any combination of herbs and spices is okay, but make sure that your choices go together well. The most basic combo of onion and garlic is fine.
For my pilaf, I chose equal amounts of bell pepper, carrot and celery. How much you will need should be commensurate with the amount of rice you’re cooking. Cut your aromatics into small pieces.
If you’re using nuts, it’s a good idea to toast them first. Heat a frying pan. Dump in the nuts and just toss them around until you see oil on their surface.
Before or after toasting the nuts, you have the option of chopping them. Because I used almonds which are on the large side, I roughly chopped them after toasting.
You can use any oil for sauteeing the aromatics. But, for better flavor and aroma, butter or ghee works better.
Ghee is clarified butter. You can buy it in South Asian food stores.
Heat your oil, ghee or butter in a frying pan. Saute your aromatics with a bit of salt and pepper. To the bell pepper, carrot and celery, I added rosemary too for even more flavor and aroma.
Then, you add the nuts and raisins or sultanas. Just keep sauteeing until you can smell all those beautiful aromas.
Add the rice.
Toss everything together so that every grain of rice is coated with oil.
You can pour the broth directly into the pan and cook the rice on the stovetop. But, I like convenience. So, I dumped the contents of the frying pan into the rice cooker then poured in the broth.
I turned on the rice cooker and, twenty minutes later, my pilaf was ready.
I let the pilaf sit in the rice cooker for five minutes to allow the starch to stabilize before raking through the rice with a fork.
And there’s my pilaf. It’s best while still hot!