Coconut, Sesame Seed and Ginger Basmati Pilaf

The pilaf with its rich and complex flavors really needs little accompaniment besides a dal and perhaps some pappadums. At Cafe Drake HRV, as seen above, we like it also with cucumbers in yogurt dressing.

Begin by rinsing 2 cups of basmati rice several times and placing in a large bowl with 1" of water to cover. Let rest for 30 minutes then drain and rinse once again.  

While the rice is soaking, place 1/2 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest for 15 minutes or until the coconut is softened; drain, pressing well to remove any remaining water. Set aside.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water and 2 cups of coconut milk to a bowl in a large saucepan. Add the rice and 2 t. grated ginger and stir. Partially cover the saucepan; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Small holes will have formed on the surface of the rice, and at this point, cover the pan completely and cook on the lowest setting for 10 more minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest, still covered, for an additional 10 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat 4 T. vegetable or coconut oil over a medium-high flame. When the oil is very hot, add 1 1/2 t. black mustard seeds and cover the skillet. The seeds will begin to pop, and when they have just stopped (20-30 seconds usually at most) toss in 8 whole dry red chilies. Stir fry for a few seconds and when the chilies begin darkening add 1/3 cup sesame seeds. Cook until the seeds become golden, less than a minute.

Now carefully stir in the cooked rice along with 1 t. salt and the soaked coconut. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed, as well as freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy as a side dish with curries  or as an entree, served with a couple of sides and condiments as seen above.


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