Basmati Rice Pilaf with Apricots

Scattered with jewel-like apricots and crunchy pistachios.
  • 35g chopped dried apricots
  • 15g fresh mint leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g basmati rice, lightly rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (an Indian spice blend)
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 475ml cold water
  • 2 wide strips lemon zest
  • 35g toasted unsalted pistachios or cashews
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Put the apricots and lemon zest in the 475ml of cold water. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garam masala, and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the water along with the apricots, lemon zest, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, wrap a clean tea towel around the saucepan lid, and cover saucepan. Cook for 10 minutes, set aside for 5 minutes undisturbed, then remove lid and fluff with a fork. Mound the pilaf on a serving platter or in a shallow bowl, tear the mint over, and top with the nuts.

Game Plan: Toast the nuts while the rice cooks.

Cook's Note: Wrapping the lid with a tea towel keeps the steam in the pot, encourages the rice grains to stay separate, and absorbs condensation that would otherwise collect on the lid and drip back into the pan.

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