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How to Make Pakistani Pilaf
You can do this with lamb, but the everyday version - the pilaf of the Pakistani 99 percent - uses just garbanzos. Don't freak about the ingredients list, it's mostly spices and condiments.
Put on some tunes! Tonight you want something with a Bollywood beat. In the iPod now is 'Aam Zameen', which has a cool Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan cover on it, with Tinariwen guesting on the track. Sweet!
Fix yourself a drink while you're dancing. Tonight I'm making mojitos.
Pakistani basmati. Accept no substitutes. You can save money with the giant bag, so don't laugh. Take 2 cups, rinse until the water runs clear, then soak in cold water for an hour.
2 cans of garbanzos is a scant 4 cups. You're gonna add a teaspoon of salt, stir, and set aside.
I use my giant enameled cast iron pot but you can use any large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid. If your pot is smaller than mine, you can use a couple Pyrex casseroles for the oven part.
Chop four medium onions plus your garlic and ginger, a nice big pile of each.
Assemble yer whole spices: three bay leaves, two cinnamon sticks, four cloves, four pods of cardamom smashed open.
Assemble yer dry spices: two tsp coriander, one tsp cumin, one quarter tsp cayenne, one tsp black pepper. Go ahead and be generous.
Combine one tsp turmeric and one half tsp salt.
One can of diced tomatoes is a a scant two cups. Have that ready, plus a generous cup of water.
Preheat yer oven to 325, lover!
Six tbsp of fat total: you can use any combination of butter, ghee, oil, whatever you got. Put it on medium high.
Then add yer whole spices and sizzle 'em for a minute.
Add the garlic and ginger and let it work.
Then add those onions and let everything make love together for a little while. At this point you might want to switch your music to something a little bit sexy.
Now that the onions are soft and everything in the pot is beautiful, add the garbanzos and stir fry them for a minute.
Then add your dry spices and stir well.
Add the tomatoes...
Then the turmeric and salt...
Then a cup of water. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
Then stir in your soaked rice.
Cover tightly and sock it in the oven for 45 minutes.
While that's baking, you can arrange all the condiments you're gonna have. You'll need pickles, of course.
When you eat like a Pakistani, there's three other things you need on the plate: a fresh chopped salad, a yogurt sauce and a chutney. You can find recipes on Snapguide, or make some with me!
First let's make a killer date and onion chutney. Put a couple pats of butter on medium high in a nonstick pan.
Then add one onion chopped into ribbons, plus a heaping quarter tsp salt, and let it work until it starts to brown.
It'll go faster if you cover it.
When the onions are almost done, rip up a few dried chiles...
Then add 'em to the pan with a drizzle of this: date syrup, also called date molasses or dibis. Let that cook a few minutes until it is thick and jammy.
Run that through a food processor real quick and you get this.
Now let's do the salad, dude. Chop a tomato and half a peeled cucumber. Squeeze the water out...
Then toss 'em together with a sprinkle of salt and a dash of lime juice and you're done.
Yogurt sauce (raita) is easy. Chop the other half of the cucumber and squeeze out the water.
Finely chop a couple sprigs of mint or cilantro...
Then add 'em to the cucumber with salt & pepper and just enough yogurt to make a sauce.
Okay, 45 minutes is up! Take your giant pot out of the oven and let it rest 15 minutes. Don't open it yet!!!
Now set the table. You won't need much this time, just ice water and a good book to read (or set another place for your sweetie, of course)! All your condiments will be mounded right on the plate.
Uncover the rice and try a bite! Let's see how you did.
This rice is just about perfect. Fluffy but not sticky. Nice job, dude!
Don't forget to remove the whole spices before you serve anybody, otherwise things could get ugly.
Pile it high, mound your condiments all around & dig in! Aren't you glad you stuck it out through all that? Now you have a feast for you and your sweetie, or a whole week of late dinners for yourself.
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Wake Forest, North Carolina
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