Amaranth Basmati Pilaf with Cumin and Scallions, Easy Zucchini Curry (gluten free, vegan)


I am always a sucker for spiced pilafs and tasty vegetable curries.  This is my latest favorite combination.  The pilaf uses a mixture of brown basmati rice and amaranth, a high protein, very tiny seed.  The amaranth lends a slightly nutty and sticky texture to the rice, and everything is delicately flavored with fragrant spices.  Amaranth is full of amino acids and healthy protein, and this is a great way to add it to your diet.  As for the curry, it is just a quick little number I whipped up, featuring tender vegetables swimming in a flavorful chickpea flour sauce.  Chickpea flour is a natural for thickening curries, adding a nutty flavor and thick, creamy consistency.  Full of vitamins, minerals, and loads of flavor, both these dishes are great by themselves, but are perfect served together.   Enjoy!

 

AMARANTH BASMATI PILAF WITH CUMIN AND SCALLIONS 

serves 4

1 c brown basmati rice, soaked 6-8 hours
1/4 c amaranth grain
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, bruised
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
4 scallions, sliced into 1/4" pieces, and white, light green, and green parts separated
2 tsp coconut oil, ghee (not vegan), sunflower oil, or other high-heat oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
water or stock for cooking (see instructions for quantity)
optional: 1 inch piece ginger, minced
optional: 1 cinnamon stick

  1. Rinse and soak rice for 6-8 hours in fresh water.  After soaking, drain and rinse, and set aside.
  2. Heat ghee/oil in a saucepan or in a pressure cooker kettle over medium-low heat, then add cumin and mustard seeds, and stir to coat with oil.  Heat until they start to pop.  If adding minced ginger, add now, and saute.
  3. Add cardamom pods, white and light green parts of scallion and chopped garlic, and saute over low heat until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Set chopped green scallion tops aside.
  4. Add brown rice and amaranth, and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and nutty smelling.
  5. Add water, salt, cinnamon stick (if using) and cook rice...
    • If cooking in a rice cooker: transfer to rice/spice mixture to cooker and add recommended amount water per manufacturer's instructions.  Cook and steam per user's manual.
    • If cooking in a pressure cooker (my favorite): add 2 1/4 c water and cook at 15 lbs pressure for 12 minutes.  Turn off heat and let rice steam for 20 minutes before removing cover.
    • If cooking on the stove top, add 2 1/4 c water, cover, and simmer on low for 30-40 minutes, until water is absorbed and grains are tender.  Turn off heat and let steam for 20 minutes.
  6. After rice has cooked and steamed, remove cover and fluff with a fork.  Remove cinnamon stick, if added. Stir in green scallion pieces, put cover back on, and let sit for a minute or two to wilt scallion.
  7. Serve immediately!


EASY ZUCCHINI CURRY

serves 4

While this curry is wonderfully flavorful on its own, in an ideal world, I would add a little heat - like a green chili, or a bunch of cayenne.  Unfortunately,  I can't go there right now.  But if you can, and you like heat, go to town!
3 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced (about 2 1/2-3 cups)
3 small carrots, sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 c frozen peas
2 c napa or savoy cabbage, chopped (cabbage or greens can be substituted)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 T ground coriander
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp dill
2 T toasted chickpea/besan flour
2 c + 1/4 c water
1-2 T ghee (not vegan), coconut oil, sunflower oil, or other high heat oil
1 tsp ume vinegar OR salt to taste
optional: 1 green chili, chopped
optional: fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Wash and prepare vegetables as directed.
  2. In a dry skillet, toast chickpea flour over medium low heat until fragrant and nutty.  Remove from skillet, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.  If you don't want to toast it, no worries - toasting just adds a deeper flavor.
  3. Heat ghee/oil in a large saucepan  Add cumin and mustard seeds, and heat over medium-low heat until they pop.  Add turmeric, and stir until it bubbles.  Add onion and stir, adding a bit more ghee if dry. Saute 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add carrots and zucchini, coriander, cardamom, dill, and 1/4 c water.  Stir to mix, and saute for 2-3 minutes.  While it sautes, dissolve chickpea flour in 2 cups of water.
  5. Add water to saucepan, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, add cabbage, peas, and chili if using, and cook uncovered until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened.
  6. Add ume vinegar or salt to taste, and let cool 2-3 minutes before serving.  Serve over pilaf or other grain dish, or with flatbreads.