Padma Lakshmi says, "This dish was born out of looking around the kitchen and seeing what I could throw together to dress up rice pilaf. I had some leftover pistachios and half a box of prunes, and I gave it a try." The result is surprisingly delicious. Padma adds that you can substitute cashews for the pistachios and raisins or dried cranberries for the prunes.
Delicious, Quick Side Dishes
5 cups water
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 small bay leaves
1/2 cup Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
8 whole star anise pods
2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
8 pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup salted shelled pistachios
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring back to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the sesame oil. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderate heat until sizzling, about 1 minute. Add the shallots, star anise pods, ginger, pepper and turmeric and cook, stirring, until the shallots are softened and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the prunes and pistachios and season with salt. Discard the star anise pods.
Fluff the rice with a fork and discard the bay leaves. Spread the rice on a platter. Top with the pistachio-and-prune mixture and serve.
The pistachio-and-prune mixture can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Reheat before serving.
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