Saturday, September 17, 2011


Since September is National Rice Month, it was time to talk about one of my favorite Pilafs.

When it comes to Pilaf, we’re not talking about that cereal bowl shaped mound of anemic white rice with some diced carrots running through it that you get at every “WASPy” Country Club dinner or wedding reception. Nor are we discussing that ubiquitous “San Francisco Treat” that legions are so fond of due to the heart stopping amount of MSG contained therein. If that is your definition of a Pilaf, then prepare to be amazed. 

Pilaf is a much derided and much maligned dish that can be a wonderful and glorious exotic catchall of flavour for anybody. It is undeniably one of the most useful side dishes in any “Cooking by Feel” chef’s pantheon. Additionally, the variations for Pilaf are limitless which makes it an ideal end of the week or weekend dish when you need to clear out the fridge of leftover bitsies.

Thy this on for size .....

Coconut Jeera Rice Pilaf

What the hell is "Jeera"?

And no, it's not some giant monster hellbent on destroying Tokyo. Jeera is simply the Indian word for Cumin seeds; not so scary is it? Cumin is one of those spices where the seeds themselves taste completely different than the ground up version of the same spice. Many people do not care for the pungent aroma of the ground version, here, in a Pilaf, the seeds provide a completely different and subtle perfume.


  • Cumin (Jeera) Seeds, whole seeds not ground
  • A large bunch of Scallions or Green Onions
  • Xtra Virgin Olive Oyl
  • Basmati Rice, or Jasmine, or regular Long-Grain Rice
  • Chicken Broth, low-sodium tinned or plain Water
  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk
INGREDIENT NOTE : Do not be confused with Coco Goya®. It is not the same! Unsweetened Coconut Milk is easy to find in the Asian or Latin section of most Über-Marts, just read the label.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper
  • Some fresh Cilantro (Coriander Leaves), finely chopped

Wash the bunch of Scallions and, using a knife, cut them in half and separate the white part from the green part. Finely chop the white part only into small rings and place them into a cereal bowl. Take the green parts and very thinly slice them on the diagonal bias and place them into another cereal bowl.

In a large saucepan, add a healthy glug, about a fat tablespoon, of Xtra Virgin Olive Oyl and place over medium-low heat to warm up.

When the oil is hot, add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of whole Cumin Seeds, just cup your hand and fill your palm (who measures?), and the chopped white part of the Scallions frfom the cereal bowl. Sauté the Cumin and Scallions for about two (2) minutes, stirring often, until the Scallions are softened.

Using a convenient Coffee Mug, fill it with the Basmati Rice, or whatever Rice that you are using, about one (1) cup, but, honestly, who measures?

Add the Rice to the saucepan and sauté, stirring frequently, for about one (1) minute making sure to coat the Rice thoroughly with the Cumin/Scallion, Oyl mixture.

Using the now empty trusty Coffee Mug, fill it with the Coconut milk and add that to the saucepan and stir. Fill the Coffee Mug again with the Chicken Broth and add that to the saucepan. Add a sprinkle of Kosher Salt and a few grinds of Black Pepper. Turn the heat up to high, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

When everything is boiling, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to very low. Cook the Rice for about fifteen (15) minutes.

After fifteen minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for another five (5) minutes. Do Not open the lid, no peeking!

After five (5) minutes, uncover the Rice and give it a fluff with a dinner fork.

Toss the fluffed Rice into a large bowl and toss with the thinly sliced green part of the Scallions from the remaining cereal bowl.

This Pilaf can be served on its own or with some simple grilled vegetables. It is fabulous as an accompaniment to any Meat, Fish, or Stew; it doesn't really matter.

Serves about six (6).

This Pilaf can easily be made vegan by substituting plain water for the Chicken Broth, just add some more salt to your tastes.

Brown Rice or even Wild Rice would be a fabulous variation as well, simply follow the package directions for cooking times.

If you don't like Coconut Milk or simply don't have any, just omit it and double up on the water or the Broth and add two (2) Bay Leaves to the mixture. This makes for a much thinner, less sticky, Rice with a lovely floral aroma.

Go for it!

©2011, L. M. Sorré, Wait At The Bar

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