Crisp fried shallots are sold already prepared in Asian markets. But as with most foods, their flavor is sharper and cleaner if you fry them up fresh: simply slice shallots thinly and fry them in vegetable oil over medium to medium-low heat until they turn golden and crispy; keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Drain them on paper towels.
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 2
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cardamom pod, split open
- 1-inch stick cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Crisp fried shallots for garnish
- Chopped hard-boiled eggs for garnish
Soak the rice in cold water for at least half an hour, but one hour is preferable.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin until the onion turns transparent and golden.
Drain the rice and add it to the skillet; sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the peas, salt, and 2 cups water and cover the skillet.
Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water has evaporated.
Scoop the rice onto a serving platter and garnish it, as desired.
What Is Pulao?
Pilaf, or pulao, is a rice dish as ancient as India. It might have originated in Northern India, where it was customarily served to the Nabobs, or Persian princes. Many varieties of rice grow in India, but the best and the costliest is a fragrant, long-grained rice known as basmati, with its unforgettable, slightly sweet taste and delicate perfumed aroma. Fortunately, basmati rice is readily available in most supermarkets. Pilafs usually contain meat; this meatless version is perfect for vegetarians.