Pilaf or pulao, as it is called in India, has always been my favorite. For two reasons, one it is super fast and two, it is so delicious! If you are Indian you know what I mean when I say cooking Indian takes hours! If you love the preparation of the meal as much as cooking it, like me, you do love Indian. But, sometimes you just don’t want to cook or have run out of ideas, right?
Pulao was always mama’s go to meal when she didn’t feel like cooking or was just low on ideas. Pulao is so versatile. It can be made with just about anything from meat to vegetables to lentils, spices and even nuts if you want to make it rich in flavor. It really is the most informal meal put together with whatever leftover groceries you may have in your refrigerator. Isn’t that great?
My favorite pulao was made with just cumin and green peas. That’s it. Ready in 15 minutes. And, I used to eat it with tons of ketchup (yeah you heard me!) and Indian achaar. It is one meal I just cannot stop at, with even two helpings… That’s how delicious it is.
This pulao is vastly different because I tried it with black quinoa. But, no less delicious.
for the cauliflower steak
1 large head cauliflower
2 tbsps olive oil, divided
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
3-4 cloves garlic pulp
1 tsp cumin
2 tsps whole coriander seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsps chili powder
1 tsp kasturi methi (dried fenugreek leaves, available easily at an Indian store)
1 tsp turmeric
3-4 fresh green chilies, chopped (or according to taste)
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Remove the leaves and trim the stem end of the cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Using a large knife, cut the cauliflower from top to base into 1 inch thick “steaks.” Season each steak with salt and pepper on both sides. (Reserve loose florets for another use.)
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sear the cauliflower steaks, about 2 minutes on each side. Gently transfer the steaks to a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
In a pan dry roast the spices for around 2-3 minutes till you get a distinct fragrance. Grind roughly.
Mix the spices with the remaining olive oil. Rub this mixture onto the seared steaks, well. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Half way through flip the steaks. They should look nice and browned when they come out. The fragrance will be insane!
cilantro pomegranate pesto
2 cups cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic
seeds of half a pomegranate
20 grams walnuts
40 grams old cheese ( I used Old Amsterdam, but you can use any old ripened cheese, Parmesan works really well too)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor or with a hand held mixer, process all ingredients till smooth.
for the pilaf/pulao
1 cup black quinoa
1 tbsp cumin (lightly roasted)
1/2 tbsp oil
1 3/4 cup water
juice of half a lemon
Rinse the quinoa well.
In a pan, heat the oil and add the roasted cumin. Once they start to sputter, add the rinsed quinoa. Fry for around 3-4 minutes. Add the water and cook on medium heat till water evaporates. This will take around 20 minutes. Fluff and set aside. Just before serving mix in the lemon juice.
to put together
In a deep dish scoop the quinoa pilaf and place one of the steaks on top. Place some chopped cilantro on top and eat with the cilantro pesto.