Pilaf with Kidney Beans and Carrots
Author: Dahlia Abraham Klein
Pilau is the national rice dish of Bukhara and Afghanistan and is served at every large, festive gathering; indeed it occupies center stage at almost every Sabbath meal. Being a vegetarian, I did not want to miss out on this traditional dish so I updated it with kidney beans in place of meat. Pilau is generally seasoned only with salt and pepper, allowing the flavors of the carrots and onions to be the strongest element. The key to making pilau is to cook the ingredients in layers. The result, when you turn it out inverted, is a topping of meltingly soft, and in parts, caramelized carrots and onions. The rice is topped with cinnamon-infused raisins, which adds just a bit of sweetness to this peppery vegetable medley. On the side of the platter is a meltingly buttery garlic head to be shared and spread onto individual pilau portions. To cut down on time, you can process the carrots in a food processor, which will result in finely slivered carrots. – DAK
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 12 hours for soaking the beans and 1 hour for soaking the rice
Cook Time: 2 hours plus 1 hour 30 minutes for the beans
1 cup (200 g) dried red kidney beans
2 cups (450 g) brown basmati rice
3 cups (750 ml) boiling water
2½ teaspoons sea salt
½ cup (75 g) raisins
3 large onions, finely chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 large carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 head garlic
2/3 cup (160 ml) oil
6 cardamom pods
3 cups (750 ml) water
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Drain and pour the rice into a large bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and pour boiling water over it. Mix well and let it soak for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
In a small bowl, plump the raisins in warm water.
In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil. Sauté the onion, stirring, for 7 minutes, or until softened. Then add the kidney beans, season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pat down the mixture with the bottom of your spoon to form a fairly even layer.
Make another layer with the carrots and season with remaining salt and cardamom. Make sure not to combine the carrots with the onions.
Spoon the rice over the carrots, distributing it evenly all over the top.
Bruise the cardamom pods: Place the pods on a flat surface, place the flat blade of a large chef’s knife on top of them and press down on it with the heel of your hand to crush them lightly until the outer husk cracks. Poke some holes into the rice and place the bruised cardamom pods into the holes. Pour 3 cups (750 ml) water and remaining oil over the rice in a circular motion.
Drain the water from the raisins and season with cinnamon.
With a spoon, form a pocket in the rice around the side of the saucepan, and place the raisins into the pocket. In the center of the saucepan, firmly push into the rice, the whole head of garlic.
Place a paper towel large enough to cover the pan on the surface of the rice. The ends will extend outside the pot. Cover tightly with a lid. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, or until the rice is fully cooked. (The towel will absorb the steam, preventing the rice from getting too sticky.) Check the rice periodically to make sure that the rice did not dry up. If the water has dried up during the cooking process and the rice is still not done, add ½ cup (125 ml) water.
When the rice is done, use a skimmer to gently transfer each layer onto a serving dish. First, remove the garlic and set to the side of the platter. Then transfer the rice, then the carrots, and finally the beans. Scatter the raisins over the top for a sweet accent.READ THE STORY>