the taste space

Basmati Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onions and Broccoli

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on April 16, 2013

Do you think there is an old school vegan cuisine?

Stereotypical tofu, broccoli and brown rice? Nutritional yeast?

What’s the new school vegan?

Kale, quinoa and Brussels sprouts? Miso?

I say what’s not the new school vegan? Variety is key! Everything is fair game!

I may choose chickpeas day in and day out for a few months (you have been warned, hehe), then I am loving lentils the following month and the next bit is all about black beans. By the time I eat chickpeas again, I have forgotten how wonderful they were and the cycle repeats itself ad nauseum.

Out of all the vegetables, we buy broccoli fairly routinely. Rob loves it. Steamed, it is a simple side for any meal Rob wants to healthify. Rob also loves adding broccoli stems to besan chilla and tofu scrambles and creamy broccoli dal continues to be one of our favourite meals.

However, as rated by my most popular tags on the blog, broccoli does not even make my sidebar!

Thus, it is time to diversify our broccoli uses.

This is a rice pilaf from 1000 Indian Recipes which is basically old-school vegan gone Indian! Brown rice and broccoli fragrant from Indian spices with sweet caramelized onions. Savoury spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cloves infuse the rice as it cooks and a tarka (spiced oil) is used at the end to get the mustard and cumin seeds to pop. Sadly, I didn’t find this dish as flavourful as I anticipated and was a bit disappointed. Next time, I would increase the spices and perhaps decrease the amount of rice. And likely add some beans for a complete meal.

What’s your take on broccoli? Common vegetable often in the shadows?

Other broccoli favourites on my blog:

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro (Whole Foods Detox Salad)
Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli
Quinoa Falafels with a Cheezy Broccoli Bowl
Buddha Veggie Bowl with a Ginger-Miso-Lime Dressing
Confetti Veggie Salad with Mustard Curry Dressing
Forty Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli
Kelp Noodles, Baby Bok Choy, Broccoli and Red Pepper with a Coconut-Peanut Sauce
Spicy Peanut Udon Noodles with Tofu and Broccoli
Creamy Green on Green Pasta (aka Raw Kelp Noodles and Broccoli with a Creamy Lemon-Basil Whipped Avocado Sauce)
Broccoli and Red Pepper Stir Fry with Peanuts


This is my submission to this month’s Random Recipe, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to Bloggers Around the World for India.

Basmati Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onions and Broccoli
Adapted from 1000 Indian Recipes (recipe also here)

1.5 cups brown basmati rice, rinsed
2.75 cups water
1 tsp + 1 tbsp coconut oil, or oil of choice, divided

6-8 green cardamom pods, crushed lightly to break the skin
1 1-inch stick cinnamon
6-8 whole cloves
3 small onions, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

2 small heads broccoli (290g), cut into 1/2-inch florets, stems cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1. In a medium bowl, soak the rice in the water, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tsp of oil and cook the cardamom pods, cinnamon and cloves, stirring, about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the onions, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring as needed, until golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until they are dark brown, at least another 15 minutes.

3. Once you have caramelized your onions, I removed half and let the rest continue to caramelize for another 30 minutes or so as I cooked the rice. Don’t forget to remove the cardamom pods and cloves.

4. Meanwhile, in a large pot, place the rice and its soaking water along with a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all the water has been absorbed. Add half of the caramelized onions once they are ready.

5. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil. Add the cumin and mustards seeds, cover and allow to pop. Once the popping stops, add the broccoli and a touch of water, cover again and allow to steam for 4-5 minutes, until tender crisp and a brilliant green, stirring occasionally. Stir into cooked rice. Garnish with remaining caramelized onions.

Serves 4-6.

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17 Responses

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  1. Johanna GGG said, on April 16, 2013 at 6:24 AM

    I love broccoli – we eat it a lot on the side because it just so good when lightly cooked in the microwave but it is more challenging to cook well in a dinner because it easily loses its glorious green – I don’t make pilafs that often but I should try more Indian rice dishes like this

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 16, 2013 at 8:08 AM

      Thank goodness we have another broccoli lover here. :) We usually steam it 3-5 minutes on the stovetop – so easy! :)

  2. Heidi said, on April 16, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    I am not in love with broccoli, but I do love it raw in salads. Cooked it goes not on the approval rating. I guess some people tend to overcook that poor green vegetable!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 16, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      You and Rob are opposite. I should make a raw broccoli salad next time you come over. I think Rob is ok if we chop it up into little bits (I like it best in raw form that way, too)

  3. sprint2thetable said, on April 16, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    Here’s where I have to admit… I can’t stand cooked broccoli. I’d rather it than white potatoes… but I try to avoid it. BUT I’d rock this recipe with broccolini or zucchini. :)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 16, 2013 at 8:06 AM

      Haha, that’s funny. I much prefer broccoli to zucchini! (Both way better than potato – I don’t like white potatoes much at all). :)

  4. Joanne said, on April 16, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Even if there was an old school vegan cuisine, I feel like everything is being reinvented these days! And I’m up for all of it. this pilaf sounds so delicious. LOVE the caramelized onions mixed in!

  5. Deryn Macey said, on April 16, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Look delish. I’m a big broccoli fan, I throw it into all sorts of dishes. I’ll have to take a look through all those other recipes!!

  6. narf77 said, on April 16, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    I want this. I am going to have to eat this tonight after our manic autumn day has passed and I am thinking about trying to replenish all of those carbs that my dogs just wore off…strike that…”I NEED THIS” :)

  7. Dom said, on April 17, 2013 at 2:37 AM

    this really appeals to me and my health kick at the moment, plus your photo’s make it look stunning!… I have some purple sprouting broc waitng for me in the fridge which needs to go into something similar! thanks so much for taking part this month, it’s excellent when you’re on board!

  8. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts said, on April 17, 2013 at 5:27 AM

    Whatever category this dish goes in – it looks like my sort of dinner / lunch / meal :)

  9. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on April 19, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Broccoli is one of my favourites too! I love lightly sauteeing it then finishing it by steaming…YUM!

    I love your definition of old-school/new-school vegan on there. Additions to the list: old school- granola, soy milk and salads, new school- daiya, green smoothies and almond milk :)

  10. lawstudentcook said, on April 21, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    I’ll have to give this a try. It looks great.

  11. Chris said, on April 21, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    That looks very good! Thank you for joining Bloggers Around The World!

  12. Diane (@SimpleLivingEat) said, on May 13, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    The caramelized onions really add a wonderful touch to this recipe. I’m just joining cooking around the world. Glad to find your blog. http://www.simplelivingeating.com/2013/05/garam-masala-chicken-bloggers-around.html


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