Imagine yourself 7,000 miles away from home, sitting in an ancient indian palace that has been turned into a hotel. You sit at a white table with wicker chairs sipping rose water and listening to the peacocks scream (yes their call is called a scream…it’s not the most pleasant sound to wake up to). Your waiter brings out several dishes for your lunch, one of them being a rice and squash pilaf. He lifts the silver lid and the scent of coriander and cumin waft towards your nose. Your mouth begins to water and then… your toddler drops her spoon and you snap back to your real life, realizing that you are at least eating a really delicious rice dish.
This dish is my own hybrid of Indian and Middle Eastern recipes, and it’s so incredibly yummy! It’s easy to make and does really well as left-overs, or if your special someone happens to come home two hours late and just wants to reheat it in the pan while you are putting the kids to sleep.
I used the kabocha squash we got from our CSA share, it’s much like a pumpkin but wayyyy sweeter. S ate the whole plate and commented “it’s like eating candy, but nutritional!”. I only used half of it so, I am tempted to see what the other half will do when I substitute it for plain pumpkin into a pie.
Squash and Basmati Pilaf
- 1/2 a kabocha squash or pie pumpkin or other winter squash (about two cups)
- 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup of raisins
- 1 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 1 tsp of ground coriander
- salt and pepper to taste
Start by halving your squash and removing the seeds. Place into a 400 degree preheated oven and roast for 40 minutes. When the squash is tender, remove from the oven and allow to cool until it is easy to handle. Remove the skin and cut up the flesh into 1/2 inch cubes. Set aside for later.
In a heavy bottom pot or a small dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium and sweat the onions until translucent. Now add the rice to the pot and stir well until all the grains are covered in oil. Allow to dry cook for about 30 seconds to bring out the flavor of the rice. Next add in the stock, raisins, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Stir well, then put on the lid and allow the rice to cook until the water evaporates and the rice is fluffy. Watch the pot though: you don’t want to forget and have it burn on the bottom. That will ruin the dish.
When the rice is cooked, pour it into a large serving dish and gently incorporate the squash. You don’t want it to break up too much. Serve warm or room temperature.
I paired this with an indian dish I love: Murgh Makhani. That is not my recipe and I haven’t tested it; mine came from my friend’s mother from Delhi, who taught me to cook Indian food; I plan to post it later on. I can also see it served with butter chicken with peas.
Please let me know if you make this, and how it turned out. In particular I’ll appreciate it this time since it’s my own concoction and I need someone else to field test it!