Meera Sodha's Winter Pilau with Beetroot, Cauliflower and Coriander Chutney
Every Indian auntie has a special pilau recipe that is often the subject of much debate and competitiveness. ‘I think Asha uses MSG in hers,’ I once heard one auntie whisper. Now, pilau might sound humdrum, but with some elaboration it becomes an unbridled joy: each grain of rice plump and flavourful; burnished vegetables lying ready to be unearthed; and bright bursts of pomegranate and chilli slicing through the comfort blanket. I am now an auntie myself, and I’d be thrilled if my pilau became the topic of conversation in someone else’s kitchen.
|600g||cauliflower (½ a big one), broken into bite-size florets|
|400g||raw beetroot, peeled and cut into wedges|
|300g||swede (½ a small one), peeled and cut into 1cm x 3cm slices|
|2½ tsp||garam masala|
|1 x 400ml||tin of coconut milk|
|6||cloves of garlic, roughly chopped|
|2||green finger chillies|
|1 tsp||ground turmeric|
|1||large onion, finely sliced|
|1 tbsp||lemon juice|
|1 tsp||caster sugar|
|2 handfuls||of pomegranate seeds, to top|
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/425°F/gas 7.Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then leave to soak in cold water.
Put the cauliflower on a baking tray in a single layer and put the beetroot and swede on another baking sheet in a single layer. In a small bowl, mix the garam masala, 5 tablespoons of rapeseed oil and ¾ teaspoon of salt, then drizzle over the veg on both trays and toss to coat. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender and caramelized in places (the swede and beetroot may need a little longer).
While the vegetables are cooking, make the sauce for the rice. Put 300ml of the coconut milk into a blender with the garlic, ginger, 1 chilli, the turmeric and ¾ teaspoon of salt, then blitz smooth.
In a large frying pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on a medium heat. Fry the onion for 10 minutes then add the coconut sauce and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the drained rice with 400ml of freshly boiled water, and bring to the boil. Put on the lid, turn the heat down to a whisper and cook for 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked through. Take off the heat, fold through the vegetables, pop the lid back on and leave to steam for 10 minutes.
While the rice is steaming, make the chutney. Add the remaining 100ml of coconut milk, the coriander, the other chilli, lemon juice, sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Blend smooth, then scrape into a serving bowl.
Transfer the rice to a platter, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve with the bowl of chutney alongside.