Once you have your rice cooked, this aromatic curry-spiced cauliflower and rice pilaf comes together quickly. I highly recommend making this with brown Basmati rice, though any long-grain rice (especially long-grain brown).
Though this dish is delicious without any of the optional additions, using at least one or two of them makes it extra special. This dish is extra tasty with fresh turmeric root, but the ground spice works well, too. Here’s a bit more about the difference between fresh and ground turmeric.
Brown Basmati is a long-grain rice that originated in northern India. Basmati’s special appeal lies in its exceptionally nutty flavor and enticing fragrance. The Basmati rice used in traditional Indian cuisine is usually refined, but a whole, unpolished version is available in natural foods stores and well-stocked supermarkets.
California Basmati is labeled, appropriately, Calmati®. This variety of rice is generally available in bulk and is a bit more expensive than ordinary brown rice, but not prohibitively so. Basmati rice may be substituted in any recipe calling for long- or medium-grain brown rice.
Complete the meal: Serve with an easy lentil dish (try Quick Indian Lentil and Kidney Bean Curry) and a simple salad or platter of sliced raw vegetables.
- 1 cup raw brown Basmati or long-grain brown rice, rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (or use a 16-ounce bag frozen cauliflower florets, thawed)
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or squeeze-bottle ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric root, or 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or more, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
- 2 to 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- Sesame seeds or chopped toasted cashews for garnish
- 1/3 cup raisins or currants
- Combine the rice with the water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. If you prefer a more tender grain, add 1/2 cup additional water and cook until absorbed.
- Once the rice is done, heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until golden. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is touched with golden brown.
- Add the cauliflower and about 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender-crisp, about 8 minutes for fresh, 4 minutes for frozen.
- Add the cooked rice followed by the ginger and spices. Stir together and cook, covered, over very low heat for 5 to 7 minutes. If the mixture gets a bit dry, add a small amount of water.
- Stir in the cilantro and peas. Salt and pepper. Add any or all (or none) of the optional ingredients, then serve straight from the pan.
If you like this tasty rice pilaf, you might also enjoy …
Here are more vegan side dishes & salads.