Something Different
Week of: October 3, 2011
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Brown Rice with Indian Vegetables
Celebrates the Season

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

In my search for a new brown rice dish, this biryani, a casserole with layers of brown basmati and spiced vegetables, attracted my attention. It stood out for three reasons.

First, Indians decidedly prefer white rice, so dishes using brown are usually a "translation," a recipe modified by those trying to eat more healthfully. The result tends to lack the fluffy lightness and grace basmati rice brings to Indian cooking. But in this dish, brown rice actually pairs better than white with the center layer of chunky eggplant, zucchini, edamame or lima beans, tomato, and bold aromatic spices in what I call an Indian ratatouille, all sprinkled with the toasted nut topping.

Also, this dish is served mainly on holidays according to Gil Marks, author of Olive Trees and Honey, a collection of vegetarian Jewish recipes. It fits perfectly right now with Yom Kippur, as a sustaining dish to serve before the fast as well as one that can be made ahead then shared at room temperature when breaking the fast. Its combination of late summer vegetables, plus dried fruit and nuts, suits Sukkot, too, the holiday celebrating the harvest that falls a week later.

Finally, while most of us still can get wonderful local produce, this dish is one everyone will enjoy.

Indian Rice and Vegetable Casserole

Indian Rice and Vegetable Casserole

  • 4 tsp. canola oil, divided
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp. sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
  • 2 cups Asian eggplant, in 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 cups zucchini squash, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped (red or green)
  • 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame or lima beans
  • 1 cup tomato purée
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins

In medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons oil with 1 teaspoon butter. Add rice, mixing until it looks shiny. Add water, turmeric and salt to taste. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer until rice is tender, about 40-50 minutes. There will be 3 cups cooked rice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 9 x 9-in. square pan or 2-quart round baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Spread almonds and cashews on separate baking sheets. Bake almonds for 5 minutes, remove from oven and spread on plate to cool. Bake cashews until golden, about 8 minutes. Add to plate with almonds, and set aside.

Heat remaining oil and butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 4 minutes. Mix in coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne, if using. Cook, stirring until onion pieces are coated and spices fragrant, about 1 minute. Add eggplant, squash and peppers, and cook, stirring, until vegetables look moist, 2 to 3 minutes. Add edamame or beans, tomato purée and sugar, cover and simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

Spread half of cooked rice in a layer in baking pan. Cover rice with cooked vegetables. Mix nuts and raisins into remaining rice. Cover vegetables with rice mixture. Cover casserole with lid, or use foil.

Bake casserole for 20 minutes, until heated through. Let stand 15 minutes and serve hot. Casserole also may be served lukewarm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings as main course (9 servings as a side dish).

Per serving (6 servings): 333 calories, 10 g fat (2 g sat fat), 56 g carbohydrates,
9 g protein, 6g fiber, 24 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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