Saturday, October 31, 2009

Indian Spiced Turkey Pilaf

In preparation for an upcoming book club/workshop/cooking class based on the book, 'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert, that I am co-teaching with Jane Lehr Eckert, Ph.D. of Studio e, I will have the pleasure of experimenting with some Indian recipes. (fyi - workshop starts in February and will be 4 weekly sessions on Thursday evenings across from Summit Mall. Sign up for my newsletter on my website to stay in the loop)

Akronite palates aren't necessarily accustomed to Indian cuisine, and I think there is a misconception that it is all very hot/spicy and curry based. The cookbook '5 Spices, 5 dishes' by Ruta Kahate is a good starting point to understanding, and using some of the spices common to Indian cooking. The premise of the book: 'Using common spices and a few easily available ingredients, you can make fifty superb, well-balanced Indian dishes." The spices are coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ground cayenne, and ground turmeric.

My first adaptation is #46: Turkey and Basmati Rice Pilaf. Typically made with ground goat in India, the recipe substitutes ground turkey. I subbed brown basmati rice for the white (both conveniently available in large containers at the larger Marcs stores), and grapeseed oil for the canola. I also got to use the beautiful fresh ginger from the farmer's market.

Indian Spiced Turkey Pilaf (adapted from Turkey and Basmati Rice Pilaf, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes)

Serves 6

1 1/2 c brown basmati rice
2 T grapeseed oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 T unsalted butter
1 t coriander seeds
1 t finely grated fresh ginger (about 2" piece)
1 pound ground turkey
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4" pieces
1/2 c frozen peas
1/2 t ground turmeric
2 t salt
3 1/2 c hot water
minced mint leaves for garnish

Rinse rice and set aside in strainer.

Make the tadka: Heat oil in large stockpot over high heat. When oil starts to smoke, add 1/2 t of cumin seeds, and slap a lid on it quick. After seeds stop sputtering, add onion and butter, and saute over medium til onion turns golden.

While onion is cooking, heat a small skillet and roast remaining 1 t cumin seeds over low heat 'til dark and fragrant. Remove seeds and set aside to cool. Add coriander and slowly roast to dark brown (Patience, please, you don't want to rush and burn or they will be bitter!). When coriander seeds are cooled, grind w/cumin seeds and set aside.

Add ginger and garlic to onions and saute over low til smells fragrant, 3-4 min. Add turkey, peas, carrots, and turmeric. Turn heat to high and brown turkey, stirring constantly, breaking it up. Add roasted seeds and stir til liquid evaporates.

Add drained rice and salt, stir gently, then add water, stir and bring to boil. Cover and turn to simmer. Cook covered 15-20 min. Let rest with lid covered 'til all liquid is absorbed.

Fluff with fork, garnish with mint, eat!

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