you are what you eat

Vegetable Pilaf


A Pilaf a dish where rice is cooked in a seasoned broth. The rice takes on a beautiful brown colour by being stirred with bits of onion, vegetables, meat (if you prefer) and a large mix of spices. Although a traditional pilaf uses uncooked rice, i prefer giving my rice a ‘slight’ boil in unsalted water. The reason for using unsalted water is because i use a whole or a half piece (depending on how much vegetables and rice you are using) of vegetables stock to flavour my Pilaf.  You can add chickpeas, beans or brown lentils to lower the GI of your meal. It is then steamed/ baked in the oven and because it is stirred through to mix all the spices, you can check on the bottom of the pot to see if the rice is burning or not. Colourful, tasty, quick and bursting with flavour and colour is this Jumua meal. It is packed with seasonal vegetables giving you lots of fibre and nutrients needed for a healthy diet.


1 1/4 cups Basmati rice, Boiled in unsalted water, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup brown lentils

3 Tablespoons canola oil


– 1 whole brown onion cut into chunks

– 4 baby marrows, cut half lengthways then halved

– 2 large carrots, sliced

– 8 mushrooms, quartered

– 15 green beans, ends removed and halved

– 1/2 cup of each tri -colour peppers, cut into chunks


– a god pinch of saffron

– 4 cinnamon sticks

– 4 cardomom pods

– 4 cloves

– 2 teaspoons cumin

– 3 teaspoons fine coriander powder

– juice of half a lemon

– 1 1/2 teaspoons fine ginger

– 1 teaspoon minced garlic

– 2 teaspoons red chillies (depends on how hot you want it)

– 2 bay leaves

– 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (roughly crushed)

– 1/2 a cube vegetable stock


– Heat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

– In a wide bottomed pan or a wok, heat 2 Tablespoons canola oil. Once heated add a teaspoon of cumin. Once aromatic add the onions, peppers, marrows, carrots, mushrooms and green beans. Stir well after each addition. Stir fry until the vegetables are ‘sealed’ and lightly browned. See the top left picture for browning.

– Heat an oven safe pot on medium heat. Add the spices and 1 T oil stirring well so that the spices become aromatic but do not burn. Add the Saffron and 1 cup water.

– Once boiling, throw the rice into the pot followed by the vegetables and lentils. Stir well so that the spices,, rice and vegetables are well combined.

– Close the lid and let the mix cook for ten minutes on low heat.

– Open the lid and stir once more. Check for any water at the bottom of the pot. You can add upto another cup of water depending on how fluffy you want the rice.

– Seal the pot with heavy aluminium foil and steam in the oven for 30- 40 minutes. Check every 20 minutes to ensure the Pilaf is steaming. You can stir the Pilaf at each check.

– Serve with fat free yoghurt and a fresh salad.


Rice Facts:

Nearly half the worlds population eats rice as a staple in their diet. Rice is an annual plant that is harvested once a year. Rice cultivation is labor intensive (thats why it is grown in countries with low labour costs), needs lots of water (countries with high rainfall). Using a rice huller the seeds of the rice plant are first milled to remove the chaff (the outer husks of the grain), this is called brown rice. The milling may be continued, removing the bran, i.e., the rest of the husk and the germ, thereby creating white rice which has a longer shelf life.

The nutrient qualities of different varieties of rice depends on how much it has been milled and processes. The more the rice has been processed, the more nutrients it has lost. Brown rice is much more nutritious than white rice but brown rice does not look as appetising as white rice. Grains, especially whole grains, are an essential part of a healthy diet. They are a good source of complex carbohydrates, high in fibre, high in vitamins and minerals and are also linked to a  lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.

Each different rice provides different textures, tastes and nutritional value. Brown and wild rice contain the whole grain, meaning that both the germ and the bran of the grain are preserved. Whereas brown and wild rice are considered healthier because they contain more nutrients and fibre. White varieties of rice have the germ and bran of the grain polished away, which diminishes their nutritional profile and increases their glycemic load, or impact on blood sugar levels. Wild rice is actually a grass, although it is sold as rice. It is even more nutritious than brown rice in many ways, as it contains more protein and higher levels of vitamin A and folic acid.

What does all this mean? Rice is an important part of a healthy diet. Rice is a starch so combine it with a low fat protein rich food (Meat/ Dairy/ Legumes) to lower the Glycemic index of that meal. Keep it interesting by adding vegetables or a salad as a side. Include rice and other starches in your diet to have a well balanced, healthy lifestyle!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 6, 2014 by in Rice and tagged , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: