This is one of my favourite variations on a classic rice pilaf. It's spiced up with vibrant curry, colourful saffron, and succulent sweet potatoes which, ounce for ounce, are one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables readily available.
For a meal befitting of the lords and ladies in your life, pack this fragrant rice into small bowls and ramekins, then inverse onto the serving plates. Top with a sprig or two cilantro before surrounding the rice with some sautéed shrimp or steamed mussels.
Yield: 4 servings
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) of white rice
2 cups (500 mL) of chicken broth or water
1 sweet potato, grated
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of curry powder
a generous pinch of saffron
½ teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 3 minutes or so. Add the rice, stirring to coat with butter and toasting for a further minute or two. Stir in the broth, sweet potato, curry powder, saffron and salt. Bring the works to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid, about 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat, and without removing the lid let the rice rest for 5 minutes or so before serving.
© Chef Michael Smith
This simple, versatile rice pilaf is distinguished by its method of sautéing the grains briefly in oil or butter before adding liquid which adds flavour and helps the grains stay fluffy and separate. Rice pilaf is also a great jumping-off point for freestyle flavouring.
Risotto is one of the world’s great rice dishes. It’s a traditional Italian dish that must be made from rice varieties with very high starch contents. Its distinctive cooking method gently coaxes the starches out of each rice grain, giving the dish its characteristic creaminess. An exercise in patience, but the results are more than worth the effort!