July 14, 2011

Quick Cauliflower Curry Rice

I knew I was going to be grilling some Indian-Spiced Pork Chops for lunch on Saturday and wanted something quick and easy and flavorful to go with them.   Normally I cook some basmati rice and usually a vegetable dish to go with anything Indian, but I didn't want to have to run back and forth between the kitchen and the grill while making lunch, and I knew Juli was going to be busy making ice cream at the same time, so I decided to make a quick dish with rice, vegetables and Indian flavor elements.   I could have made some sort of Indian-flavored pilaf or a vegetable biryani, but both would have required more time and effort than I wanted to put in.   So, I came up with a short cut by using something pre-prepared.

Juli likes the packets of supermarket flavored rice and noodle packets, the sort where you boil some water, stir in the contents of a packet, and in a few minutes you've got noodles or rice in a flavored (if usually too salty) sauce.    I'm okay with those sometimes, if I'm in a hurry or want something fast and easy to accompany something else, but the supermarkets in our neck of the woods don't carry any Indian-flavored brands.  I figured I could still use a couple of those rice packets, though.   I'd just fry up some onions and vegetables in oil first, then stir in some curry powder and the packet contents along with some chicken broth and water (much more flavorful than using only water).  Since I'd need oil to fry the onions and vegetables, I'd also then be able to skip adding any butter along with the flavor contents while still being sure the rice wouldn't be too dried out.

I decided I'd chop up some Indian hot peppers I picked up last weekend when we dropped by Maria Grocery, plus some cauliflower.    Along with the onions, that would give me a flavorful vegetable element for the meal, and a mix of hot and sweet curry powders would provide a distinctly Indian touch.

It worked like a charm.   This rice and vegetable dish turned out much better than I'd expected.  In fact, it was really darn good!   I'm not a big fan of the packet/box/can shortcut school of cooking, but there are times when it works, and this is one of those times.   This was so good, in fact, that it would really stand on its own as a meal.   As is, it went great with the chops, and some samosas and chutney rounded out the meal quite nicely. 

I'll still probably stick with some basmati rice and a vegetable curry most of the time when I'm cooking Indian, but given how fast and easy it was, and how pleased we both were, we'll probably be falling back on this every now and then, and I'm going to remember it for when we need a quick, easy meal to fall back on.

Quick Cauliflower Curry Rice

yield = 6-8 servings

3          tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1          large onion, chopped fine
2          hot chili peppers, minced
1          head cauliflower, cut into bite-size floret pieces
2          teaspoons hot (Madras) curry powder
1          teaspoon sweet curry powder
2          packets (5.7 ounces) chicken-flavored rice and
               pasta blend
2          cups low-sodium chicken broth
2          cups water

Add the oil to a Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook 4 minutes. 

Stir in the chili pepper and cook 2 minutes.   Add the cauliflower and the two curry powders and cook, stirring often, 3-4 minutes. 

Add the flavored rice packets, chicken broth and water.  Stir to mix and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low simmer and cook 7 minutes, then remove from the heat.  

Let sit off heat for 2 minutes, then stir with a fork, and serve.

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