Living in a teeming multicultural town anywhere in the US has its perks if one is a foodie. While there is ample scope for tasting all manner of cuisines, like say, risotto or empanadas at the local Farmer’s Market or Jamaican barbecued chicken wings or churros at a fun fair, community potlucks and school parties augment the experience, with aromatic, culturally redolent home-cooked meals lining vibrantly up on little tables. Furthermore, stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and even the wholesale giants like Costco stock up on global foods, sometimes offering bite-sized samples to help one make an informed choice. While the sight of anything Indian customarily raises the enthusiasm quotient in us, we’ve been known to break into a trippy tango when no one’s looking, on encountering delights such as ready-to-eat Persian Pilaf or Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina. While it goes without saying that we like to pepper some of our finds with select Indian spices, perhaps even top them with a tasty Tadka tempering to suit our highly-seasoned palates, we sometimes just turn around, tie our apron strings into not-so-perfect bows and re-create some of that magic in ways that we deem fit, in our little kitchens..with the sun warming our shoulders and the zest for wholesome cookin’ brimming in our hyperactive minds. This myriad-layered, many-textured, nutty, grainy, sweet and spicy Multigrain Pilaf is a result of one such undertaking and it should suffice to say, was gone in a trice.
- ¼ Cup sunflower seeds
- ¼ Cup chopped walnuts
- ½ Teaspoon + 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ Cup cracked wheat
- ½ Cup millet
- ½ Cup wild rice blend
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 1 Star anise
- 1 Large onion, chopped
- 2 Green chillies or 1 Serrano pepper, slit
- 1 Clove garlic, minced
- ¼ Cup chopped sundried tomatoes, optional
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 Cups vegetable stock
- 1 Cup water (or use more stock)
- Chopped herbs and dried cranberries to garnish, optional
In a large saucepan or pressure cooker, dry roast the sunflower seeds and walnuts. Remove into a small bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in the same pan and add the cracked wheat, millet and wild rice blend. Toast the grains on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove into another bowl and set aside.
In the same pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss in the cinnamon and star anise. Stir until the cinnamon unfurls and then add the onions. Cook the onions until they soften and then add the chilli, garlic and sundried tomato. Stir for a couple of minutes. Now add the toasted grains, salt, pepper, stock and water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until the grains are tender. If using a pressure cooker, allow one whistle and then wait for the steam to escape.
Let the pilaf stand, uncovered for a few minutes, then transfer to a serving bowl. Scatter the seeds and walnuts on top. Garnish with chopped herbs and a few dried cranberries if you like.