Purple Cabbage Pilaf
75 Min

Purple Cabbage Pilaf

Just like most people from the Asian subcontinent, a meal without rice is incomplete in my home. Making rice each day can be cumbersome and one way to alleviate that is to have plain rice premade in the refrigerator, ready to turn into a quick meal. And then there are some rice dishes that are even good cold or at room temperature. This cabbage pilaf is one of them and four cups of cabbage for one cup of raw rice may seem like much, but I promise you, even your kids will enjoy it.

The pilaf is a showstopper when made and can be served alongside grilled meats or vegetables or a simple stew. The key is to add the cabbage to rice a few minutes after it is cooked and the steam from the rice will cook the cabbage just enough to soften it yet maintain its color. If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, there are a multitude of ways to enjoy it, if not just straight out of the refrigerator. It can go into a salad, a stir fry or just dumped into a warm stew or curry. I often call for the addition of a serrano pepper in most of my recipes and like in this one, the serrano adds a very small almost undetectable dimension of heat, but it rounds off and almost magnifies the salty, sweet, and savory flavors in a way really nothing else does. So, go ahead and stock up on the serrano peppers and give this pilaf a try.

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Cook Time

75 Minutes + soak time



Step 1
Rinse the basmati rice 2 to 3 times in water then soak for an hour or two. Drain.
Step 2
Wash the leek thoroughly then slice it thinly, keeping the green and white parts separate. Combine the green parts of the leek with pecans, raisins, cabbage, serrano, lime, and salt and set aside.
Step 3
In a medium sized saucepan, warm the olive oil over high heat until shimmering and pop the cumin seeds. They will pop and sizzle for just a few seconds, then add the white parts of the leeks. Cook for just a few minutes then add the rice, cloves, salt and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the rice rest for 5 minutes.
Step 4
Spread the cabbage mix over the rice and immediately cover it again. Now let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes then gently stir.
Step 5
Add mint leaves and serve.

1 cup long grain basmati rice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

5 to 6 cloves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small leek

1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans or any other nut

1/3 cup raisins or currants

4 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage

1 serrano, finely minced

1 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup mint leaves

Notes & Variations

  • Be sure the use a pot big enough to fit the rice and the cabbage mix over it.
  • This pilaf can be made with plain green or Napa cabbage.
  • The cloves add a nutty warm flavor and aroma to the rice – they can be replaced with a stick of cinnamon or a few crushed green cardamom or mace pods.
75 Min

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