This year, we are not home for Christmas so we had our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. I wanted to prepare something special ,having not made any effort the last few months. Pomegranates are in season now….all the shops have abundant supplies of these ruby red beauties and I have been searching for a way to use them in almost everything I make. I came across a picture sometime back ….a picture of a pilaf with pine nuts and pomegranates and I figured now was my chance to make this. V is in charge of peeling them and removing the seeds……..…poor thing, I don’t even offer to help….its a tedious job!!!! I had pomegranates and pine nuts but with no recipe I winged it and I have to say I loved the result!!! The pomegranates seeds were like tart little jewels in the white blanket of rice along with buttery toasted little nuggets of pinenuts……..all coming together to form a delicious morsel.
Now all it needed was some similarly delicious accompaniment …….so what does one do when one does not have many veggies, in fact only two in the refrigerator and some fruit………well, one becomes creative and prays that the results are delicious!!! I love using pineapple in savory curries…..somehow it adds a tangy sweetness that cannot be replaced by any other. I have always used them in a coconut based curry but I wanted to try something new………. so inspired by navratan korma I decided to make a cashew based gravy and pair cauliflower, cranberries and pineapple with it. As I said, I was winging it and praying for good results!!! Now…..as I am writing about it you have probably guessed that the results were favorable ……….in fact it was more than favorable, it was delicious!!!! Cauliflower, like tofu, seems to absorb the sauce it is in while cranberries and pineapple provide a sweet and tart counterpart to the spicy sauce while cashews add a buttery delicate flavor and also thicken the gravy.
For an impromptu meal, this was one of my favorites and something I will definitely be making again and again.
POMEGRANATE – PINE NUT PILAF
1 ½ cups Basmati Rice
¾ cup Pomegranate seeds
¼ cup Pine Nuts
2 tbsp. Oil
4-5 Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Star Anise
2-3 Allspice berries
Salt to taste
¼ Tsp. Black Pepper
Wash the rice and soak in water for 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly before cooking.
Heat the oil and toast the whole spices.
Sauté the rice till toasted…….the rice kernels will turn slightly opaque.
Add the salt and pepper. Add 3 cups of water, turn the heat down to medium low and cover partially.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts till golden brown. Do not take your eyes off them, they toast really fast due to the high fat content.
Cover and cook the last 5 minutes……..the whole spices will have risen to the top and there will small holes on the surface of the rice.
Remove from heat and sit for another 5 minutes.
Using a fork, fluff the rice making sure the rice kernels do not break.
Toss with the pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.
Cauliflower – Pineapple Curry
2 cups Cauliflower Florets
1 cup fresh Pineapple, cubed
2 medium Red Onions, roughly chopped
¾ cup canned whole Tomatoes
¼ cup Cashew Nuts
2-3 cloves Garlic
1 Green Chili
Salt to taste
1 ½ tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. Cayenne
½ tsp. Turmeric
¼ cup Yogurt (thick, preferably Greek)
2 tbsp. Oil
2 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped
2-3 tbsp. Cranberries
In a blender or food processor, process or blend the onions, tomatoes, cashew nuts, garlic and green chili.
Add the yogurt and blend at a low speed.
Heat the oil, lower the heat and add the paste.
Add the garam masala, turmeric, chili powder and salt.
Sauté, adding a little water if necessary.
When the paste is halfway cooked, add the cranberries and cauliflower. Add a little more water and cover.
When the cauliflower is almost cooked, add the pineapple and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and serve.