Beat the heat with Peas and Rice Pilaf

It has been a sweltering start to summer here in Abu Dhabi with temperatures hovering between 37 and 41 degrees (in Celcius)! So it isn’t hard to imagine that we enjoy light foods with a refreshing and cooling taste rather than heavy, oily, spicy foods that only turn up the heat inside the body as well! So I whipped up a light and refreshing rice and pea dish along with a cooling and delicious side of yogurt and eggplant raita (I’ve shared this recipe before here, Eggplant Raita) to fill our bellies and keep us light on our feet! 😉

Mazhar has recently taken it upon himself to be a little more health conscious than he has ever been in his life. As a result he has seriously limited his intake of rice and potatoes, especially! So after a span of almost three weeks I was allowed to cook rice for dinner and I decided to go with this family favourite. Peas and rice pilaf is a really simple and tasty dish that is enjoyed by everyone in my family during the long summer days because it is light on the spices and big on taste! It’s perfect for lunch and dinner and also very easy to pull together on short notice. 

The recipe I’m sharing here today is one with my personal twist to the original recipe, simply because I wanted to experiment with a few items that have been hogging space in my spice drawer for a while now. I just hadn’t gotten round to looking up a recipe that used these spices particularly so I thought what the heck let’s just add it to what we cook and this dish seemed like a good opportunity to try them. I’m talking about dried mint. I don’t even remember when or why I bought it but it’s been in my pantry for a long time! It has a slightly stronger aroma than fresh mint and thus a slightly more potent flavour profile so my suggestion would be “just a little goes a long way!”

Without further delay please read on to find my recipe for peas and rice pilaf, traditionally called matar chawal pilau in Urdu. Happy cooking everyone!!


Ingredients 

  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • 2-4 cloves
  • 4-6 black peppercorns 
  • 1 stick cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 275 grams green peas, frozen
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt, whipped
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp dried parsley 
  • 1 green chilli, finely diced
  • 350-400 grams Basmati rice, rinsed, soaked for 30 minutes and drained

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil and add in the onions. Cook the onions till they turn soft and translucent and are just about getting golden on the edges then add the whole spices and the ginger, garlic paste. Cook for another minute or two till the spices are aromatic and the ginger garlic paste has a bit of color. Tip in the frozen peas and salt; mix in with the onions and spices so that the peas start to thaw.
  2. In a small bowl whip the yogurt and mix in the dried mint and parsley and green chilli. Pour the mix over the peas, cover and cook on a low flame for about 5-7 minutes. The yogurt will have turned into a slight gravy and the oil will have separated from the gravy.
  3. Now add the soaked and drained rice into the pot. Turn the heat on high and make sure that all the rice are evenly coated with the oil and gravy. Cook for 5 minutes but make sure you keep stirring so that the rice doesn’t catch and burn on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Pour in enough room temperature water to just cover the rice and a bit over. Wait for the water to come to a boil, then check and adjust the seasoning, cover the pot, turn the flame down to low and let the rice cook for 25-30 minutes till the water dries out and the rice are nice and fluffy. Dinner is ready!


As I mentioned earlier, we enjoyed this rice pilaf with a side of cool and refreshing eggplant raita and a few mouth-watering Chapli kebabs. Dinner was a hit and we had an enjoyable evening ending with ice cream and ice fruit lollies! Do try this recipe and let me how you and your loved ones like it. Enjoy!

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