Foodiva's Kitchen: French Fridays with Dorie - Cardamom Rice Pilaf

Friday, May 27, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Cardamom Rice Pilaf


A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.
~Edward de Bono

The best rice pilaf (or pilau rice) I had ever eaten was at an Indian restaurant in Malvern. It was located down the road from my boarding school, tucked away at the base of the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, UK. Or maybe it seemed like the best because of the memory tied to it and sometimes that's what the brain chooses to remember over everything else.


I was 16 or 17, doing A-levels (upper school, pre-Uni, senior year high school, etc) and a group of my friends and I frequented that restaurant, mostly at weekends. There weren't many places to hang out in those days and the restaurant was cosy, it was nearby and the food was freshly prepared and delicious. If you've ever been to boarding school and to Malvern, you'll know that 1. good, unprocessed food is hard to come by, and 2. the town, while quiet and scenic and is conducive to (cough) more 'focused' studies, is filled with easy-going retirees and their pampered dogs. No happening cafes, fast food joints or entertainment centers for miles for underaged, bored teenagers like us. That Indian restaurant was then THE place to be.

 Safflower, lime, dried apricots

In fact, we got to know the owner so well that on quieter nights, he would often let us into his kitchen to roll, customize and bake our own flatbreads or naans. That was where I'd learnt how hot a tandoor oven really got, and where, if you stuck your hand in (to insert the naan) for a few seconds more than necessary, you'd likely end up with all the skin on your hand and lower arm scorched off! Ahh..but we were fearless teenagers and that mere experience was exhilarating.

 Cardamom seeds, raspberries, lime zest

We often hung out there at the weekends, however the one time a small group of us decided to go on a weeknight - and stayed until well past the closing time - our boarding house matron, a judicious and portly lady, had come looking for us. When we saw her huffily peering through the restaurant windows, it was 1am-ish, and we knew we were in trouble. The inevitable pep talk with the principal occurred the following day, of course, and a number of us (not saying who) were suspended from school for a week not for breaking the 10pm curfew, but for being school prefects AND breaking the rules! So yes, that's how I remember the most delicious rice pilaf still.


This week's French Fridays recipe brought all the memories flooding back. Cardamom Rice Pilaf, and fortunately this time, I'm going to break the rules again although nothing too drastic that Dorie need get huffy about. I didn't have basmati rice in stock so I simply used what we normally eat in the house, which is Thai fragrant rice. Yes, the cardamoms were included and they made the rice smell and taste divine! I don't know about you, but I looove the strong, distinct smell of cardamom. Cardamom is the second most expensive spice in the world next to saffron, and its aroma brings to mind lemons and mint and eucalyptus with warm undertones of cloves and rosemary (phew, am I correct?). Truthfully, I could chew on the raw pods too but that's borderline preference and I know it's not for everyone.

Although you cannot really see it here, I stirred in a teaspoon of Turkish safflower to give the rice a faint, yellow tint. The chicken stock brought bucketfuls of comforting flavor to the dish, while thinly sliced lime zest (instead of lemon) and dried, soft apricots complemented the cardamom and stock perfectly. To finish off the dish, I garnished it with roasted whole almonds and squeezed a few raspberries through a sieve in an effort to dot the rice with some red color. Incidentally, where the juice was most concentrated, the raspberry provided an interesting and delicious accent.


Finally, just because I'm who I am, I served the rice pilaf in a bowl made out of 4 toasted filo sheets stacked up on one another. My idea was... as you are eating the rice, you can also munch on the crispy bowl along the way!

As usual, I can't wait for the other rice pilaf posts to be put up by my fellow bloggers at French Fridays with Dorie. Everybody will have their own take on the original recipe, I'm sure. We don't normally publish the recipes out of Dorie's book, Around My French Table, but if you're interested, here's where you can get a copy.

Hope you guys have the loveliest weekend!

54 comments:

Alina---Explora Cuisine said...

Looks so full of colors! Really great side dish, I don't really use cardamom so this is intriguing :)

Foodiva said...

Thanks Alina, I'm sure when you do try cardamom, you'll love it!

elle marie said...

I am really craving Thai or Basmati rice.. in fact... I'm so tired of short-grain.... And long grain is expensive here... high tax on leather and rice imports.... yai yai yaiThis is something I would absolute love with all the spices.

Foodiva said...

Elle Marie, is long grain really expensive in Japan? I never realized that's the case, although I would imagine that the Government wants to promote Japanese sushi rice, hence the import restrictions.

Chocolate Addict said...

Maya,
I'd no idea that you were from brunei when i chanced across your blog (through delisioucity's link) :). I guess it's because your blog has an 'international' feel.
in response to your notes, yes - the tops often crack because the macarons are not dried enough; air-conditioning is really a must - I've 'dried' macarons under the fan for 3 hours but they still cracked... ugh.
when I use french method, I usually have no problems getting feet to form. it's once your overmix the batter, that they don't form and if you undermix, you will get these really huge feet. for italian meringue, I'm still not really sure as the last few batches I had were close to being feetless. But I currently prefer italian because I don't really get hollows with this method, compared to the french. Bu I do have to say though, it's impressive you had success at ur 4th attempt! my macarons at my 4th attempt looked nothing like yours - they've been through painstaking trial and error.
I've not tried Optima flour but thanks for the suggestion :)
It's nice to meet another Bruneian blogger too!

Cher said...

Cute story. Ah, the things we do in our youth... How do we ever survive ourselves!
Love the variation with the fruit.

Foodiva said...

Ben@Chocolate Addict, wow, thanks for that lengthy clarification on how to get successful macarons! What a relief to be able to talk to someone who uses the same ingredients and lives in the same weather and time zone as I do... I guess the next step would be to find out what type of oven you use :-). You know what, I'll try making them again this weekend...everyone's right, they're addictive! Wish me luck.

Foodiva said...

Cher, yes that's true. I think that about myself all the time too, and really not looking forward to my teenagers leaving home! Haha, they shouldn't ever read this post.

Norm said...

Hi Foodiva!

Thanks for your kind comment on my blog - it's lovely to find yours, it's beautiful! I can't believe you went to school in Malvern - I grew up in Ross-on-Wye, not far from there. What a gorgeous part of the world it is.

Anyway, I shall add your blog to my list of blogs-I-love-to-read. It's great to find other Brunei bloggers such as you and Ben.

I have tried making macarons twice now (as described on my blog) but only in the UK. I haven't yet tried here in a tropical climate. I'll let you know if/when I do...

Kate

Adriana said...

Your pilaf looks so flavorful, Maya. Never would have thought to squeeze berries on rice, but that's what I love about your blog... always shaking up what I think we can do with food. I love your story, although I have a hunch you got away with breaking with curfew just fine. :-)

Lizzy said...

Heehee...love your story! Been there, done that :)

And now to your gorgeous rice! As always, you wowed me with your version. Beautifully done, Maya!

Foodiva said...

Kate@Norm, gasp, what a small, small world! Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, hope my posts are worth your time ;-). As for those macarons, if you do get to make them here and they turn out fine, I'm going to have to interrogate you to get your secrets out! LOL.

Foodiva said...

Adriana, the berries were a last minute thought as I wanted some (more) color but couldn't bear to add red food coloring or eek, beetroot.. And oh, your hunch was correct! ;-)

Foodiva said...

Lizzy, thanks. Yes, been there, alright...but haven't done everything I want to do in this lifetime yet!

saffronandhoney.com said...

I love the story :) it's always nice to find out more about fellow food bloggers!

And your pilaf looks gorgeous, great additions of fruits & nuts.

Ei said...

What a great post! There's nothing better than when food takes you back to a concrete time and place in the past, and you can relive it for just a second. Your pilaf looks gorgeous. Much more photogenic than mine. I'm very intrigued by the raspberries. mmmmm

Pacheco Patty said...

Great story! It's amazing how a fragrant bowl of rice pilaf can evoke such memories;-)
Your rice is so colorful and full of flavors, such a beautiful creation. I can see that you really had fun putting your personal touches on this recipe, definitely not plain old white rice anymore! I like my little animal knife rests and I'm glad you like them too;-)

sanyaliving.com said...

Your photos are always so fresh and alive!
Love how your personality comes through in everything you do and I love the way you know and embrace who you are!!!
Inspiring!!!

yummychunklet said...

I like how you jazzed up your rice with additional lighter flavors!

tammy said...

Beautiful photos and lovely way to intertwine your 'breaking the rules' stories :) Your pilaf looks beautiful.

Sandra said...

Oh Maya, Maya...how do you do it every time???:)))
This is so unique and beautiful, and looks so tasty! I never tried cardamom in rice recipes..wonderful presentation and mouthwatering photos!!!

Three-Cookies said...

Your photos look really awesome, captures the brightness from the spices really well. That macaroon is something I am now craving for!

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

Yummy! And what a great story. I love when food conjures up happy memories. :)

Susan said...

Really wonderful post! I love the story & your creativity with this dish which lends itself so nicely to it. Have a great weekend!

aipi said...

Sweet story ~ I love when food evokes memories :)
The pilaf looks exotic a great blend of ingredients/flavors!
US Masala

vanillapantry said...

I love your presentation!!!! Beautiful! I am definitely going to try the dried apricots and saffron. Thanks for the inspiration.

Nami @ Just One Cookbook said...

Hi Maya! Thanks for sharing the story behind the dish. It's always nice to hear little story like that. Your picture of all the spices are really nice and very creative! Looks like images from those website sell this kind of images. Your ride with cardamom looks delicious! I especially like how you added apricot. Very nice touch. Thanks for sharing another great recipe!

Elaine said...

What a great story. I love naan.Your rice looks beautiful and I can almost smell the Thai fragrant rice. I really like cardamom in the baked goods I have made, but it is definitely a new flavor for me in cooking.

Laurie Lessner said...

Your photos are beautiful. They really accentuate the ingredients and I love the combination of flavors you chose. Cardamom being the star, I'd say you skirted the recipe, but didn't completely leave the realm (-:

Kris' Kitchen said...

Great Job Again...I love the way you dressed up your rice. This rice needed something...we gave it a whole meal...and I love what you did...so beautiful. And, I also enjoyed your memory story. Nice post.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Maya - I love how you made this into a full on dish, not just a side dish. I prepared it as per Dorie's instructions but I have a wonderful edamame bean salad that is begging to be mixed with the leftovers. Gorgeous pictures, as usual!

Tricia S. said...

Oh my- I am honestly not sure what was more delightful- your insanely gorgeous pictures or your lovely story. I have thorough enjoyed both. I literally almost gasped when I saw the stunning opening shot of that completed dish. Stunning. And my older son attends boarding school,but as a day student until next year. He will be a "6th former" next year and a prefect as well. If the worst thing he gets in trouble for ends up cooking too late at a local restuarant...I will be one happy Mama :)

Foodiva said...

Thank you again, Doristas! I've enjoyed reading everyone's stories and checking out your pilafs this week.

Foodiva said...

Tricia, your sweet comment really made me chuckle. I wished my mama was as open-minded as you are when that incident happened over 20 years ago! I'm sure your son, as a prefect, will set a fine example...well, we as parents of teenagers can only hope, anyway. We were them once, remember? ;-)

Kate@Diethood said...

I love your twist on this... as always, your creativity amazes me!

Betsy said...

Another great post! I loved your story about food memories. Cute one, the prefects getting trouble for hanging out late at a restaurant, not a wild bar! I loved your take on this one with the extra additions. I used sliced almonds in mine, but whole ones, plus the fruit sound delicious.

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

I love those spoon shots!

And I also like cardamom, but the thought of chewing on the pods makes me shudder. I guess we're all unique snowflakes ;)

Michael Toa said...

What beautiful rice pilaf and I adore the edible bowl too. Fantastic! I didn't know cardamom is the 2nd most expensive spice in the world. Interesting. I like the warm taste of cardamom, but don't think I could just snack it as it is, like opening pistachio shells :)

Foodiva said...

Conor, I'm a tropical snowflake...if that's at all possible! LOL.

Foodiva said...

Thank you, Michael. Although I like it, I agree, chewing on cardamom pods is pretty intense! It's a bit like eating wasabi by the spoonful...

Mother Rimmy said...

You pictures are truly incredible. I don't often use cardamom. Terrific job on the rice pilaf!

KarenP said...

Fun memories! Your changes to the recipe sound delicious and your photos are beautiful.

Foodiva said...

Mother Rimmy and Karen, many thanks. Appreciate you both stopping by!

chefpandita.com said...

I am in love with your photos! Love the flavors and colors you added to this dish.

Foodiva said...

Yuri, thank you. I think your millet pilaf pyramid was more innovative! Love, love it!

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Wow Maya, what a fabulous idea eating delicious pilaf and container! This makes me want to make something like this too. Just love your blog for your creative genius always! Cheers!!!

Trix said...

Ok, well, when I saw this week's Dorie recipe I thouhgt "Boring." But then I should have known that whatever you did with it would be anything but boring!!! As always, love reading your post and adore looking at your gorgeous creation.

Foodiva said...

Arthur@Michelangelo, your zucchini glasses were magnificent too! The carvings are so beautiful, I'd be almost too afraid to drink out of them. So thank you, your compliments are held to a high regard ;-).

Foodiva said...

Trixibella, believe it or not, I thought the same thing too... That was why I thought really hard about how to make the plate of rice 'unboring'! I might sit out this week's recipe, though. I'm at a loss at how to liven up a bowl of warm weather vegetable stew! All these savory stuff are starting to get to me..LOL. I do love my sweets!!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Great idea serving it in an edible crispy pastry bowl! It looks delicious :)

Victoria said...

Don't tell Dorie, but I think your rice looks better than hers ;-) Way more awesome, all in one place. PS I posted the roundup on Saturday! Thanks again for participating.

Magic of Spice said...

What a story...aside from the trouble, what a great experience :) Your version of this pilaf is wonderful and oh so pretty :)

Kudos Kitchen said...

WOW! What a great post to read and feast my eyes on. Your photos are truly amazing. They're so clear and crisp looking. Great, great job! Did I mention great job? LOL

acookingmizer said...

O.M.G. can you teach me how to photograph like you do please?? Or how would you like to photography my dishes for treats?? LOL, you make the dishes look tasty, and after seeing your photos, I run to my refrigerator to eat leftovers!! lol... its THAT good!

Related Posts with Thumbnails