Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cauliflower "Rice" Pulao

When you eat a vegetarian diet with a carb-conscious slant, vegetables become your very best friends. I can continue to eat my beloved rice, noodle and pasta based dishes by bulking them out with vegetables.

Pulaos are a regular part of the meal rotation around here- both for quick weeknight meals and as a crowd-pleasing side dish when friends come over for supper. The difference is that these days rice has to share the spotlight in pulao and fried rice. In every case, I've found that tweaking the rice-based recipe with extra vegetables does in no way spoil the experience of eating that quintessential comfort food. The spices and seasonings make it taste just the way I've always loved it.

Cauliflower florets have always been a delicious addition to many rice dishes like masale bhaat and vegetable biryani, but lately I've also been using cauliflower in its trendy avatar of cauliflower "rice" which is nothing but cauliflower florets that are finely grated to a fluffy, rice-like (or maybe cous-cous like) texture. Trendy or not, it is certainly a simple, practical and tasty way to fill out rice dishes.

This weekend, I found large, beautiful heads of cauliflower on sale and bought three to convert to "rice" and freeze away- yes, raw cauliflower "rice" freezes beautifully and it is very convenient to process it all at once and have a stack of boxes in the freezer ready to be cooked.

The food processor does a quick and tidy job of turning cauliflower florets to "rice".
  • Cut cauliflower into chunky florets.
  • Rinse them well and drain/spin/pat them dry.
  • Place a few florets in food processor bowl fitted with a metal chopping blade.
  • Process until most of the florets turn to rice- be careful not to over-process to mush.
  • Remove the unprocessed chunks- they can be chopped again with the next batch. 
  • Repeat until all florets are riced.
  • The "rice" can be cooked right away or stored in airtight boxes or bags in the freezer.

Some people serve cauliflower rice raw in tabbouleh-like salads but I have yet to try that. And rather than make a dish of sautéed cauliflower "rice" by itself, I prefer mixing it with steamed Jasmine-or-other rice- it fits in with my general scheme of not cutting out grains altogether but just eating less of them at every meal. Because the cauliflower "rice" blends in so well with cooked rice, it will work in just about any rice dish from any cuisine.

This time, I made a simple pulao to serve with whole masoor amti and raita.
  • Heat oil in a pan.
  • Temper with cumin seeds.
  • Saute 1 medium thinly sliced onion until nicely browned.
  • Season with salt, turmeric powder and pulao masala (or other favorite spice mix).
  • Add cooked rice (about 1.5 cups) and cauliflower "rice" (about 3 cups) and stir fry for a minute. 
  • Cover and steam cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Drizzle with ghee and lemon juice (optional) and serve!

24 comments:

  1. I had wondered if it would work but hadn't been brave enough to try it yet. Now I that I know someone has and liked the results, it is my turn to experiment with the idea.

    I do have one question, I saw a video of someone using their slicing attachment to their food processor instead of the cutting blade in the bottom. It appeared they ended up with cauliflower pieces that looked more like rice than cous-cous. Have you tried it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never used the slicing attachment for this, Judy, but I will be sure to try it next time- I can see how it might work well!

      Delete
  2. Hi Nupur, I was wondering whether you would be open to doing a post on starting baby on solids. I've started my 6-month old on avocado, sweet potatoes, carrots, and green beans for the most part but he is not taking well to brown rice cereal made at home. I have been searching blogs for suggestions on introducing solids to Indian kids...khichdi would be the right choice I assume...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have written this post which might be useful to you:
      http://onehotstove.blogspot.com/2012/11/fast-food-for-baby.html

      Basically, my approach is to offer a variety of foods and not worry if baby likes or dislikes a particular food. Lila got the same fruits, veggies, rice/oats/sooji, dal that we parents ate- no special meals as such. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have questions.

      Delete
  3. Hi Nupur! you are back after long. This cauliflower rice looks like a neat idea.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really like your approach to vegetables and carbs. Your continued commitment to eating according to your ideals is commendable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nikita! It is not about ideals really- just that this approach is very doable for me on a long term basis, and more importantly- it is working for me so far.

      Delete
  5. Wow, that is very new. Will try it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So glad to see this. I get so worried about my carb intake as I age, but we all know being vegetarian can be really carb intensive. I will be watching your posts more carefully now, and going on this journey with you, for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Faith- yes, I have the looming threat of type 2 diabetes to think about, but some changes in the diet have helped a lot lately. Good luck to you!

      Delete
  7. Hi Nupur! I too eat a lot of cauliflower rice, specially when the meal is rajma , chole or daal Makhani, which is usually accompanied by rice. Sometimes I add some brocolli too! Regards, Mansi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mansi- Yes, it goes very well with rich, saucy curries!

      Delete
  8. Lovely timing Nupur. Made pancakes topped with fresh strawberries for breakfast and wanted to switch to low carb lunch. I only had leftover Thai curry at home and wanted to make rice. Instead I used your idea to make broccoli rice as I didn't have cauliflower on hand. It tasted great; we all ate a delicious, healthy meal for lunch :-)

    Thanks for the idea and love it that they freeze well.
    Meena.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meena- that was quick! And I am so glad you all enjoyed broccoli rice- it must have paired well with Thai curry. I've never made broccoli rice but I can see how it would work well.

      Delete
  9. Nice to see you posting after a long time.
    I was semi-comatose where blogging was concerned, but I resurface, once in a while ;)

    I have seen many posts replace cauli rice for 'real' rice and that wasn't so appealing to me. But, this, this works. I must try this next time, thanks Nupur.
    Isn't it your birthday month? Birthday wishes in advance! Do let us know how you celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Manasi- The mix of cauli and real rice works really well, and a little rice can go a long way in being satisfying and giving the look/feel/taste/texture of a "proper" rice dish- give it a try!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes :) It is going to be a fun month- my sis and BFF are both scheduled to visit.

      Delete
  10. Posted a comment yesterday but looks like it didn't make it.

    My husband has been pushing for us to avoid eating grains at dinner. We have been eating a lot of millet (ragi, bajri, jowar, foxtail, barnyard) for dinner. Some of these are whole grains, so we use them to make khichdi with moong dal (instead of rice). Ragi dosas are a big favorite here! They are instant (ragi + water + salt), and they crisp up so well. I love the taste too. I have also been making muthias with bajri/jowar flour and shredded vegetables. Since summer spoils us silly here in GA, we have also been eating soups + steamed veggies for dinner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, we love ragi around here too. A couple of my favorite ways to use it: I mix it in with fermented dosa batter (which I usually have stashed away in the freezer) to make flavorful and crispy dosa, and I mix ragi flour with shredded cucumber/zucchini to make instant dosas.

      I love the idea of the steamed muthias- will try making those!

      Delete
  11. Hello Nupur, I cannot thank you enough. You have changed my life. I follow your food blog and have made some simple life changes since august 2015. Dropped carbs completely except maybe once a month. Learnt to swim and can do back and freestyle now. Became mobile and walk 6k-8k steps or so per day. Over all lost 52 lbs in 8 months and became overweight from extremely obese and aiming to be in healthy BMI. My confidence has improved, my skin is glowing , my health issues are going away. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't thank me- this is all your hard work! That's an amazing transformation and I wish you the VERY BEST going forward. When you see positive changes, the lifestyle tweaks become pretty easy to maintain, right? Thank you for this note- I am so thrilled for you.

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to say hello!