We eat rice in some form or other pretty much every day, whether it's rice porridge for breakfast, rice milk smoothie, rice flour in baking, rice as a side or rice as the shining star.
This dish is definitely the later. Rice forms the basis of this deceptively tasty dish, along with meltingly tender spiced aubergine (eggplant), fragrant curry leaves and beetroot.
This is one dish that keeps you coming back for more, in one mouthful you may chance upon a spoonful of tender spiced aubergine, cumin seeds and mustard. The next you taste earthy beetroot and cashew. And if you're like me you'll search out the curry leaves and eat them up first, their 'curry' flavour is undeniably good.
If you have more patience than I, leave the pilau for an hour or so after cooking and you will be rewarded with bright pink rice as the colour from the neighbouring beetroot stains the grains.
This is perfect eaten straight from the pan, left to cool slightly and even straight from the fridge the following day. The recipe feeds a crowd, or you for many days... simply half the recipe if you like.
Looking for more aubergine/eggplant recipes?
~carrot and red lentil soup with minted eggplant
~roast eggplant, tomato and feta salad w/ pomegranate molasses dressing
Inspired by a recipe in The Settler's Cookbook, by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
beetroot and aubergine pilau
I used rice bran oil this particular time, but I imagine ghee would be ridiculously good to use in it's place. I buy a large bunch of curry leaves at a time and freeze what ever I don't use straight away in a zip-lock bag. Use straight from frozen.
feeds a crowd! 8-10 or more if served as part of a feast.
- 1 medium aubergine (eggplant)
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups basmati rice, washed well
- 4 tablespoons rice bran oil, or other neutral vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 2 onions, finely diced
- 2 hot green chillies (i.e birds eye), finely chopped
- small handful of fresh curry leaves (approx 10 leaves)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 large (approx 650g total) beetroot, cooked*, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped
- sea salt, extra, to taste
- torn coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve, optional
Cut aubergine into 1cm dice, place into a non-reactive bowl (ideally glass), sprinkle over the 1 tablespoon sea salt, mix though and set aside while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add washed rice and cook for 7 minutes over high heat. Drain off the water, cover tightly with the lid (weigh down with tins if the lid is not tight-fitting) and set aside for 15-20 minutes while you prep the rest of the dish.
Heat oil in a large frying pan over med-high heat, add cumin and mustard seeds and cook for a few minutes until popping. Add onion, chilli and curry leaves. Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring often until translucent and lightly golden. While they are cooking, drain the aubergine, rinse under cold water in a sieve and pat dry with the clean tea-towel or paper towels. Add turmeric and drained aubergine to the onion mixture and cook for 2 minutes before turning down to low, covering with a lid and cooking for a further 5-7 minutes until golden and tender. Stir a couple of times during cooking to prevent the mixture catching on the bottom.
Add diced beetroot and cashews, stirring through to warm. Gently stir in cooked rice so the beetroot stains the rice. Taste and add more sea salt if needed. Serve scattered with torn coriander (cilantro) leaves if desired. Can be eaten warm or cold.
Note: The longer this pilau is left to sit, the pinker your rice will become as the beetroot colours it's neighbouring rice.
* To cook beetroot, place whole, unpeeled beets into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer until tender. Depending on their size this can take anywhere between 30-60 minutes. Cool slightly before peeling.