Back in 2015, Vaidya R. K. Mishra and his wife Milena visited us in New York City to teach at our Ayurvedic Nutrition and Culinary Training. A couple of hours before they left, they called me and Prentiss (my husband) to their hotel room. There, in the tiny kitchenette, Vaidya showed me how to make two recipes that work particularly well as travel food. This Lime Rice Pilaf is one of them, but of course you can also enjoy it as a hot grain dish at home.
With this recipe I also want to introduce you to a special variety of baby basmati rice also known as kali jeera rice. It is a local staple in Bangladesh, and it is my new favorite grain because it is so tasty, aromatic, and easy to digest. Its sweet taste and delicate nutty flavor make it very balancing for the Fiery/Pitta and the Airy/Vata. As a bonus, kali jeera takes a few minutes less cooking time than regular basmati rice.
It is difficult for me to describe the heavenly aroma that rises while this dish cooks—it is so enlivening and appetizing! And in your mouth, its bursts of flavor culminate with the crunchy bits of toasted nuts.
This colorful and grounding dish goes well with non-starchy vegetables, lentil soups, and salads.
Serves: 2 Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 30 minutes
Gluten free, Dairy free
½ cup white baby basmati rice (aka kali jeera) or regular basmati rice
½ + ¼ teaspoon Soma Salt
2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small green Thai chile, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) nuts—one or a combination of slivered almonds, cashews, pistachios, halved pecans, halved walnuts, pine nuts
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
cilantro leaves or chopped dill
For Fiery Digestion: Omit the chile.
For Earthy Digestion: Add one more small chile and reduce the nuts to ¼ cup. You may also substitute quinoa for the rice.
- To wash and soak the rice: Place the rice in a strainer and dip it in a bowl of cold water. Wash the grains by gently rubbing them between your fingertips. Do not crush the grains! Lift the strainer, empty and refill the bowl with water, and repeat 2 or 3 times, until the washing water runs more or less clear. Keeping the rice in the strainer, soak it in a bowl of water for 10 minutes, then drain.
- In a 1-quart saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add ½ teaspoon of the Soma Salt and the drained rice. Bring to a boil, then cover, and reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes, until the grains are soft (15 minutes for regular basmati). Turn off the heat and, using a large fork, fluff and spread the cooked rice on a tray or a plate and let the rice cool down to room temperature (this will firm up the grains so that they do not get mushy when you pan fry them).
- In a 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat the ghee on low and gently toast the turmeric until it darkens a shade and releases its aroma—about 10 to 15 seconds. Add the cumin seeds and continue to toast for another 10 seconds, then add chile, ginger, and curry leaves and toast for 15 seconds more, until the fresh ingredients crisp up. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and the nuts and toast on medium-low heat until the nuts are slightly golden and crisp, 20 to 30 seconds.
- Add the cooked rice and stir fry on medium heat, using a metal spoon to toss and stir gently but frequently. In about 5 minutes the rice will become a littler drier, less sticky, and slightly crisper. Try to keep the grains whole and not too mushy.
- Leave the pilaf uncovered to release some of the steam. Add the lime juice and mix with a fork.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately.
For traveling: Omit the fresh herbs garnish (they will make the rice spoil faster).
If you are allergic to nuts: Substitute dried shredded coconut and sunflower seeds for the nuts in Step 2. The shredded coconut and sunflower seeds will need only about 10 seconds to turn slightly golden.
Do not reheat this rice because after the lime juice is added, heating will turn this dish very acidic.