Like Biryani and Paella, Pilaf (Pilau, pulau) is a one pot medley of rice and vegetable or meat, in this case Frutti di Mare (seafood including mussels, squid rings and shrimp). Recipes vary within individual families as much as they do across the globe. In South Asian versions of the dish, rice is spiced with cinnamon and cardamom and steamed in a bed of spicy broth containing meat and or vegetables. Spices are less extravagant than those used in making Biryani and cooking time is definitely shorter.
I used butternut as the only vegetable component in this
dish.I had half a butternut in the fridge, it seemed like an unlikely
accompaniment to seafood but it worked rather well. I am not the first
to try this combination, the Waitrose seafood pilaf recipe was an
I chopped the butternut into medium sized pieces then sauteed on a pan with onion and black mustard seeds, similar to pumpkin curry, expect I did no let it soften. Once the pilaf was cooked I topped with the pan fried butternut.
Is It Pilaf or Pilau?
The word pilau is the English derivation whilst pilaf is considered North American. Both originate from the Turkish word pilav, and the Persian pilāv.
Pilaf Rice vs Meat or Vegetable Pilaf
In its simplicity, pilaf rice is simply rice boiled with cardamon and cinnamon then fried in ghee. This can be enjoyed with any curry, meat or vegetable. Variations include added egg. Meat Pilaf or Vegetable Pilaf, on the other hand is combined with a sauce or broth to form the dish.
How to Make Seafood Pilaf
This recipe has two components, the rice and sauce. I made a few adaptations in cooking technique because of the sea food, like when making Prawn Biryani. I used frozen frutti di mare, which requires minimal cooking time, so I par boiled the rice to reduce cooking time. I made two components, the rice and the sauce or broth.
The Sauce or Broth
I refer to this part as the sauce, as it form the gravy which mixes with the rice. I like to marinate the meat or vegetables when making pilaf. Unlike biryani this seafood pilaf does not have to be done overnight, it can be done at least 30 minutes before you intend cooking.
I marinate the seafood in green paste, made from chilli, ginger garlic, cumin, coriander and mint,add tomato paste and yogurt and top with fried onions. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To cook the seafood, Fry chopped onions in ghee then add the seafood. Simmer for 5 minutes before adding rice.
Cover and allow rice to steam. Remove from heat and mix.
Rice for Pilaf is sometimes spiced with cinnamon and cardamom, I opted out for this recipe. I used grated turmeric to give the rice its yellow colour. Other suitable substitutes are saffron or turmeric powder.
My method for preparing rice is to boil for 5 minutes then rinse out starch. Return to stove with a half a teaspoon of vegetable oil or ghee, to prevent rice from sticking together. Bring to boil then drain. Set aside while you prepare the sauce component.
Seafood Pilaf Recipe
Seafood Pilaf Recipe
- 400g seafood (Frutti di Mare)
- 2 cups rice
- 2 onions sliced into rings for marinating seafood
- 1 onion finely chopped for cooking
- 1 teaspoon grated or ground ginger and garlic
- half cup chopped coriander and mint
- coriander for garnishing
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon grated turmeric or turmeric powder
- 2 green chillies (vary quantity if you prefer more pungency)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or ghee (for adding to rice)
- Prepare the seafood marinade: Combine chopped mint and coriander, ginger, garlic, tomato paste, yogurt and cumin powder. Add thawed seafood. Mix and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare the rice:Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Rinse. Return to heat. Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Bring to boil. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
- Compose the pilaf: Heat a pan on medium heat, Add ghee. Add chopped onions. Fry until golden brown. Add seafood marinade. Simmer for 5 minutes then add rice layer.
- Cover and allow to cook on low heat for10-15 minutes until rice is ready.
- Remove from heat, serve warm with raita and a green salad.