Pilaf for a Curry Banquet

Fragrant and festive, this rice will go with any curry entree. The best thing is that it will keep warm for up to an hour after it cooks, so no last-minute stress!

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbs. vegetable oil
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. nigella seeds
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Cook the onions over a medium-low heat in the oil in a deep saucepan that has a lid along with the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds and nigella seeds. When the onion is slightly brown and softened, after about 10 minutes, stir in the rice.

Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pot with a clean dish towel and clamp the lid back on. Leave it for at least 10 minutes, or up to an hour. Fork the rice through when you are ready to serve and sprinkle the almonds on the top.

Serves 8-10

Bulgar Wheat with Flaked Almonds and Nigella Seed

Nigella often says that if one has an ingredient with the same name, it would be rude not to use it! Here, Nigella seeds pair beautifully with bulgar wheat and it is ideal served with Salmon Scallops with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette.

1 tbs. olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. Nigella seeds
2 cups bulgar wheat
750 ml cold water
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
2/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
small bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the lemon zest, thyme, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and Nigella seeds. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the bulgar wheat. Pour in the water and add the salt. Bring to a boil, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. By this time the water should be absorbed and the grains soft.

Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel, replace the lid and leave for 10 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the bulgar wheat and tip into a bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, almonds and parsley.