I first found a recipe for a carrot pilav at Serving The Guest, an excellent site about Islamic, or more specific Sufi, cooking and cooking lore, which however used lamb. As I am a vegetarian but wanted to try the recipe, I substituted seitan and TVP chunks for it. It didn't seem to work, however (well duh!, but my inability to cook with meat substitutes is an other story alltogether). Later on I discovered a similar recipe on www.islamicconcern.com (a site by PETA), which used blanched almonds instead of the meat. But being not quite happy with the spices and herbs used, I took from both recipes what I liked and made my own version of this dish.

So. Here goes. This should serve about 4 to 6.

The recipe

1 cup blanched almonds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
seeds from 20 green cardamom pods, ground
20 cloves, ground
1 stick of cinnamon, ground
2 teaspoons black pepper (or more), ground
1 large onion, diced
1 pound of carrots, in (semi)circles
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 cups of basmati rice
4 cups of hot water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup raisins
Sunflower oil, salt

Fry the almonds in a little sunflower oil untill they start to turn brown and begin to give off a nice smell. Take them out of the pan and set them aside.

Now add some more oil and fry the cumin seeds briefly before adding the onion. Fry untill the onion starts to turn golden, then add the ground spices and stir before adding the carrot and bell pepper. Fry for about 3-5 minutes before adding the rice. Stir the rice around to coat it with the oil, and after about 1 or 2 minutes, add the hot water, at least a teaspoon of salt, the oregano and the raisins. Let it come to a boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low and let the dish steam for another 10 minutes before stirring in the almonds and serving it.

Serve with a cabbage and onion salad with cayenne pepper, or a beetroot and radish salad.

Blanch almonds by putting them in to boiling water for a minute and rinsing them with cold water. The skins should slip off easliy.


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