Quick Onion Pilaf
This is a quick way of turning yesterday's rice into a simple flavored pilaf. It's a little moister than a classic pulao, and quite heavily flavored. The recipe starts with plain cooked rice and tosses it with a succulent blend of simmered onions, minced ginger, and fresh jalapenos. The result is an appetizing mound of fragrant, pale-yellow rice dotted with soft turmeric-tinted onions and bright flecks of green chile, and topped with toasted cashews. Serve as a main dish with a yogurt sauce and a salad or, more elaborately, with a kebab as well.
1/4 cup raw cashew nuts or cashew pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
5 fresh curry leaves or dried curry leaves
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 jalapeno chiles
or 2 cayenne chiles, minced
1 pound onions (3 to 4), thinly sliced into rings or half circles
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups cooked white rice (basmati, American long-grain, or gobindavog)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Place a heavy skillet over high heat, add the cashews, and dry-roast, stirring constantly, until golden. Remove from the heat and continue stirring for about 15 seconds, then transfer to a plate.
Place all the ingredients beside your stovetop.
Heat the oil or ghee in a large heavy pot over high heat. When it is hot, add the asafetida and stir briefly to dissolve it, then toss in the mustard seeds and stir. Cover the pot as they pop; when they have finished popping, add the turmeric and stir. Toss in the curry leaves, ginger, chiles, and onions and stir to coat with the oil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are softened and starting to brown.
Stir in the salt and sugar, then add the rice, turning and stirring with a spatula to break up any lumps and mix well. Handle the rice gently so the grains stay intact and don't get broken or mushy. Continue turning and stirring until the pilaf is well heated and mixed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lime juice and stir and turn for another 30 seconds, then mound on a platter. Top with the cashews and serve.
Note: This dish has a mild chile heat. To make it milder, discard the chile seeds; to increase the heat, use more chiles.
Also try with aval, a flattened rice available in Indian groceries.