Friday, September 27, 2013

spiced millet pilaf with beetroot, feta + mint recipe

spiced millet pilaf with beetroot, feta + mint

I love rice. Some would say there have even been times in my life when I've lived off the stuff. Rice porridge for breakfast, rice chia bread for lunch, followed by curry and rice for dinner...
It's played a huge part in our diet since changing over to gluten-free 5 years ago, it was my savior when I felt I couldn't eat a thing and is always a quick and easy meal base for those nights when life gets busy. So you'd think when The Good Guys sent me a Sunbeam Risotto and Rice Perfect cooker as part of Voices of 2013 that I'd make, well um, something with rice eh? Nope, not today. Instead I wanted to show how easy it is to cook gluten-free grains in a rice cooker too! 

Buying a good rice cooker has always been on the top of my list of tips to help make life easier when eating gluten-free. Although, admittedly it did take me awhile to succumb to Si's pleas to buy one when we first met. 'How hard is it to cook rice in a pot?', was my usual reply. It wasn't until we traveled round Si's homeland, Vietnam, where I saw that every family owned at least one rice cooker, even in the middle of the whoop-whoops where power is a little fickle, that I decided I could swallow my chef pride and invest in a rice cooker. You know, to keep the boy happy and all. I've never looked back. They truly do make life easier and the rice/grains are always cooked perfectly. Okay, okay, even better than when I cook it in a pot. I'll admit.

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The challenge was set, create a dish using the Sunbeam Risotto and Rice cooker that included spice in some form or another... 

I cook with alternative grains and seeds often and millet is one of my favourites. It contains way more vitamins, minerals and protein than rice, has a much more mellow flavour than quinoa, but can be used in dishes much in the same way as you'd use either. There's also one more thing that makes me love millet and that is it's price tag! In comparison to other nutritious grains and seeds it is really well priced, I suppose because many people still think of it as only bird food. I urge you to go and try it if you haven't already, but maybe just not all at once though... we don't want the shops catching on to it's goodness and charging the world for it too!
I decided on slightly Indian-inspired flavours and created a base of onions, garlic, chilli, curry leaves and the all important spices. In this case I stuck with locally grown mustard seeds in shades of brown and yellow, cumin and turmeric. The Sunbeam Risotto and Rice cooker has a great saute function which I utilised to cook down the base ingredients first before lightly toasting the millet, adding in the water and switching things over to cook.

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Spiced millet pilaf with beetroot, feta + mint

Minimising food wastage is something that's really important to me, so rather than wasting those beautiful beetroot leaves, I used them to form the base of a lively (albeit strange coloured!) pesto, along with some fresh mint from the garden and lightly toasted cashews.

The Good Guys are also giving you the chance to win your very own Sunbeam Risotto and Rice Perfect cooker, just head on over to their blog and leave a comment. Good luck!

spiced millet pilaf with beetroot, feta + mint spiced millet pilaf with beetroot, feta + mint

spiced millet pilaf with beetroot, feta + mint
To make this dish vegan, simply use olive oil in place of ghee and omit the feta. You will need 2 long green chillies for this recipe, some will be used in the pilaf while the rest is used in the pesto. I leave the seeds in as I love chilli, but you can remove the seeds if preferred. It's important to note that the rice cup that comes with the cooker is only 180ml not a standard 250ml measuring cup. The 180ml cup is what I've used for this recipe.
Serves 6 or more as a side

1 bunch baby beetroot, leaves reserved and stems trimmed to 2cm

3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 long green chillies, finely chopped (de-seeded if desired)
a small handful curry leaves
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 rice cups (315g) hulled millet* see headnote
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 3/4 rice cups (675ml) cold water* see headnote

1/2 cup (65g) lightly toasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
crumbled feta cheese, coriander (cilantro) + mint leaves and lemon wedges, to serve

mint + beetroot top pesto dressing
the trimmed leaves from the baby beetroots (approx 100g once stems are trimmed off)
1 cup packed mint leaves
1/2 cup (65g) lightly toasted cashew nuts
1/2 long green chilli (leftover from the pilaf, de-seeded if desired)
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place trimmed beetroots into a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender. Depending on the size of your baby beets this can take from 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel and cut into quarters, halves or little chunks. It's up to you.

Switch the Sunbeam Risotto and Rice Perfect cooker on. Press menu until the light shows up next to saute. Leave for 1-2 minutes or until hot, add ghee or oil to the bowl, then the mustard and cumin seeds. Stir briefly, then when the seeds start to pop add the onion, cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, chilli, curry leaves and turmeric and stir for a further 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in millet and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often until toasty smelling. Carefully pour in the water, give it all a good stir to make sure the ingredients are level. Pop on the lid, press menu until the light shows up near 'rice' and leave to cook. You will hear the cooker beep when it's cooked and it will switch over to 'keep warm' when done. Leave it on 'keep warm' for 5 minutes, then remove lid and fluff up millet with a fork (being careful not to scratch the bottom of the bowl!). Replace lid until you are ready to serve.

While the millet is cooking, place all the pesto ingredients into a small food processor and blitz until smooth. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you'd like it a little thinner, simply add a little more lemon juice and olive oil.

Stir cashews, coriander (cilantro) and mint through the millet pilaf (reserving some for garnish if desired). To serve, place a scoop of pilaf onto plates, top with some beetroot, scatter over feta and drizzle with pesto. Serve with extra lemon wedges for squeezing, if desired.
Note: Quinoa can be cooked in exactly the same way as millet using a rice cooker. 

This post is sponsored by The Good Guys as part of Voices of 2013


  1. I've not cooked with millet grains yet (only baked with the flour a little) this looks mighty delicious and I love the (albeit strange coloured ;)) beetroot leaf pesto. Here's to the brilliance of rice cookers, I married my man for his, hahaha long story.

  2. What a beautiful dish! So creative. Millet is one of my latest discoveries, I'm trying to push myself out of my brown rice and quinoa box! Love it so far.

    1. It's great isn't it?! I eat it nearly everyday in some form or another :-)

  3. This looks like a lovely recipe and something I would devour very quickly. Thanks for sharing, such beautiful flavours! x

  4. Stunning photography and a lovely blend of flavours, particularly your addition of mint. Looks delicious!

    1. I try to sneak mint into nearly everything I make :-)

  5. Beautiful photos as always. I really love all the flavors going on in this recipe!

  6. Beautiful combination of ingredients, flavors...spicy, minty and the photos make it even more tempting.

  7. Such a delicious looking, colorful, and innovative recipe! I love that you used millet instead of rice. It's such a versatile grain. This recipe is definitely bookmarked.

  8. How great, never in my life have I tried this. I think I just might have to especially with the combination of mint and spice!

  9. I've always been skeptical of rice cookers but maybe I'm wrong! This sounds like a totally delicious combination too, I love the salty/hearty/bright flavours you've got going on.

    1. I'm still on the hunt for a teflon-free rice cooker, which would make me happy beyond belief :-) (Hint, hint Sunbeam!) But yes, they are pretty awesome.

  10. Beautiful dish. I love the contrast in colours and shapes. The lighting is lovely.
    Can't wait to try it, Emma.
    Have a great w/end.

  11. I wanted to come and read this again. Like I said truly beautiful. I don't own a rice cooker for the same seasons as you didn't have one for. Makes me want to have one now!

  12. Looks delicious! I was just thinking that this fall I need to eat more beetroot, very timely post to see :)

  13. i've always had a rice cooker, even in my college dorm room for when i was feeling particularly home sick and i would have rice + soy sauce in the middle of the night. it wasn't until i was an adult did i learn how to make it on the stove top.

    i've never had millet before, but i have cut back on my intake of rice lately, and have relied heavily on quinoa and pearl barley instead, though they are cooked on the stove top. i've been hesitant to cook anything but rice in our cooker. your post gives me hope!

    ps. i adore beet root, and love that you've made it into a pesto.

  14. Hi Emma!
    I recently bought a bag of millet from Swansea markets and tried cooking it three times. Failed on each occasion. It does not absorb the water at all. It's not the first time I cook millet and never had this (weird) outcome before. Have you heard of such a thing as a 'bad batch' of millet? :)
    Donno what to do with it but discard unfortunately.

    1. Oh no Chris! Do you know if it was is hulled or unhulled? If it was unhulled you will never get it soft cooking with water (I think it's usually used to make puffed millet and millet meal in commercial operations). I only ever buy hulled. If yours was hulled then maybe it was super old or heat-treated, both these things would make it near impossible to cook. Hope that helps? I buy Kialla Pure Food (organic) Aussie-grown hulled millet from my local GoVita store. xx

  15. Wow! The pictures look amazing. Simple and flavorful!!

  16. OH!!WOW !That look like good and amazing! i like it !malaysian hair

  17. Beautiful, thanks very much,I like it.

  18. Very beautiful, thanks for sharing

  19. Your plate looks great! Please, can you tell me how much time do I have to keep it on cooking machine? Thank you for the answer.


Thanks so much for stopping by, arohanui xx Emm

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