Monday, August 20, 2007

Using it up

Not so long ago I was lamenting my metamorphosis into a greedy, short-termist, zombified food consumer, abandoning my principles of resourcefulness and real appreciation of food.

Well, since then I've been more zealous about shopping frugally and seasonally; making my lunches and using whatever is to hand. Unfortunately, this hasn't resulted in much of interest to be posted here - lots of quite lovely but ordinary salads, sandwiches, stews and the like...

One new glad discovery for me though was pilaf. I've been a member of the risotto appreciation club for some while - once I'd tried it a couple of times and found it far easier than anticipated, and very amenable to a whole host of bits and pieces mixed therein, I wholeheartedly embraced it in my dinner repertoire. But pilaf, that was a ricey relative of risotto that for one reason or another I hadn't much bothered with...

But Anjum Anand's book has been sitting in our kitchen for a while, enticing me with bright, moreish looking Indian dishes, and one day I came across the pilaf recipe, a component of which was leftover veg...

Hence, the next time I had veg left over* I set to following Anjum's recipe. (I find her television programme vaguely annoying incidentally, but the book is very good.)

It's very simple, but if you like me haven't previously dipped your toes in pilaf waters you might be interested to know the general idea. Which is as follows:

1. Saute a chopped onion until soft (about 4-5 mins) then add spices and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds) - I used: a cinnamon stick; a bay leaf; a tsp cumin seeds; a few cloves; a couple of black peppercorns; and some coriander. Anjum doesn't use the coriander, but adds cardamom, which I would have done if it hadn't been for drawing blanks at the five shops I tried for it.

2. Add your chopped left over vegetables and cook gently for 3-4 minutes to heat through - I used carrot, courgette, green beans and peas. Anjum suggests cauliflower also, but there I would imagine there is practically no limit to what you can chuck in

3. Add cooked rice (this too can be left over, but I cooked from scratch) and gently stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

4. Stir in a squeeze of lemon juice and serve. (I served mine, above, with an egg curry from the same book and some fresh mango, which was a very good accompaniment)

As for quantities - it's just whatever you have or whatever looks about right; there's no hard and fast rules. Adjust spices down or up if you're making for significantly more or less than 2-3.

Super easy, but very very good and very versatile. (Still not very photogenic unfortunately!)

*well, to be fair I rarely have anything left over; these were kept over specifically with another destiny in mind, but it was still a way of utilising that which was already in my fridge and planned for one meal


PrincessT said...

I like the blog; what's better to write about than food?

Wow, there's a risotto appreciation club!? Where have I been all this time? I love risotto! In fact, I have a sudden urge to cook some tonight. But I've never considred pilaf; I feel so "out of the loop" now. I must try it, it sounds delicious!

Little Sister Saucepan said...

What's on the side of the plate? Mango? Or should I say what would you recommend to serve with this? I can see an egg in there but wasn't sure if you had any other good ideas. Thanks!

lydia saucepan said...

princesst - thanks for the comment! if you like risotto you'll probably like pilaf too - very comforting and moreish.

lss - it's served with egg curry and a fresh mango. the egg curry wasn't such a success because i didn't reduce the sauce enough, but was quite pleasant. the mango is one of the smaller, more highly flavoured orange ones, and was great on the side. i think it's fine to eat on it's own, but some kind of more strongly flavoured simple curry would be good too for a bigger meal