Apricot Pomegranate Pilaf

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Recipe by Chef Micheal Swamy

I love pilafs. They are one of the easiest things to put together and can be a complete meal on their own. I have never really understood why people pair delicate yet flavourful pilafs with rich spicy curries. All one needs is a bowl of mildly spiced raita and some crispy papads. Here I have cooked the pilaf in some wine for an added touch of flavour.

Ingredients:

1½ tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pieces star anise

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 bay leaves

2 inch cinnamon stick

4 cloves

1 large fresh green chilli, minced

1½ cups Basmati rice, washed & drained well

2 cups vegetable stock, hot

1 cup white wine

6 to 8 dried apricots, soaked in ½ cup white wine

Salt to taste

½ cup fresh pomegranate seeds

For garnish

A few sprigs fresh mint leaves

½ cup crisp fried onions

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add star anise, cumin, bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves.
  2. When spices crackle, add minced chilies and rice and sauté the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in stock, wine, apricots (with soaking wine) and salt and mix well.
  4. Increase flame to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally till level of liquid reduces to a point where the rice just becomes visible.
  5. Immediately reduce the flame to low, sprinkle over with pomegranate seeds and cover the pan. Cook for another 6 to 8 minutes till rice is tender.
  6. Fluff the pilaf with a fork gently mixing the pomegranate seeds into it.
  7. Serve hot garnished with mint and crisp fried onions.
  8. Serve with any raita of your choice and papad.

NOTE: If you would like to make this recipe without wine, simply omit the wine and cook the pilaf with 3 cups stock. In that case, the apricots should be soaked in stock or warm water.

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