Winter Vegetable Pilau Rice is a substantial vegan main dish, studded with roasted winter vegetables and cooked in a fragrant coconut and spice sauce.
My last few recipes – Salmon with Winter Fruit Salsa, Roasted Celeriac, and my Brown Butter Banana Bread – have been simple ones. Not too many ingredients; not too many steps. This one asks a bit more of you. Are you okay with that? Good. Thank you. 🙂
The ingredient round up and method in this Baked Winter Vegetable Pilau Rice is admittedly rather more elongated than usual. But, please let me assure you that it is well worth your time. Despite what may look like a lot of hard work, the steps are straightforward, and the ingredients inexpensive and easy to find. And, if you are like me the gentle, almost mediative, rhythm of chopping and mixing is more pleasure than chore. As for the result, the layers of tastes and textures are reward for your time in the kitchen. And just look at all the colours. Proper Food To Glow!
This recipe is based on one by the cookery writer, author and The Guardian (UK) columnist, Meera Sodha. In her latest cookbook, East, she explores and fuses East Asian/South Asian and Indian recipes and ideas for the vegetarian and vegan cook and eater. All are pretty simple, but the flavours perform magic in your mouth. I have tried a few and we have all loved every single one of them.
For this Baked Winter Vegetable Pilau Rice I have changed out a number of ingredients and steps that more suit my style. But please do buy her book and explore for yourself. I think it would make a fantastic Christmas present for anyone who loves bold and creatively-crafted flavours.
Tips for making Baked Winter Vegetable Pilau Rice
This is probably not a midweek make. But come next Friday or Saturday, when the lure of the takeaway menu is calling, consider putting together this deeply flavoured dish. It makes enough for six to eight servings, and tastes great as leftovers. There will be absolutely no waste, I assure you. It is also flexible as to the amount of heat you want to add in. I have some finger chillies in the cooking sauce, but leave them out if you wish. As written, it is not at all spicy-hot. Just spicy-mmm.
Getting ready to cook When you go to make it, do as chefs do and work on the principle of mise en place. Have your baking trays, blender and bowls handy; clean and prep your vegetables and rinse your rice – before you do any cooking. I know some of us like to wing it, but honestly for a longer recipe, it is just too easy to get muddled up and miss something out. I speak from about 35 years’ experience of cooking. 😉
Size matters For the vegetables, keep the hard ones- the beetroot, carrots and celeriac – the same size. For the cooking sauce, decide whether you want to add the coriander/cilantro in the cooking sauce, or keep it for the pour-over yogurt sauce. Either is great, but in both would be a bit much. My daughter Rachel prefers it in the drizzling sauce.
What pot As for the cooking vessel, ideally use a lidded dish that you can have on the hob/stovetop and in the oven. A cast iron pot is ideal. In the images, my dish is rather too shallow for the volume of this recipe, but I managed – just about. For photos it’s good to have the food at the level of the cooking pot. But in real life, a deeper dish would be better. An actual cooking pot.
How to make Baked Winter Vegetable Pilau Rice
1. Chop the vegetables and preheat the oven.
2. Mix the spices and oil to coat the cut and sliced vegetables for roasting. Arrange them on two baking trays and roast until tender.
3. While the veg are roasting, rinse the rice until the water runs clear (or you could soak it for half an hour, then rinse), and bung the cooking sauce ingredients in a blender to blitz smooth.
4. Fry off the onion and add the homemade cooking sauce, coconut milk, rinsed rice, cooked chickpeas and boiling water. Bring to a boil then add a lid and pop it in the oven to part-cook.
5. Remove the lid and stir in the roasted vegetables; put bake in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
6. Make the simple yogurt sauce to top each serving.
This is a flexible recipe, so make adjustments that suit you and your fellow eaters.
1. Use whatever hard vegetables that you like. Maybe go sweeter than I have and use sweet potato or pumpkin. Use all red cabbage instead of cabbage and cauliflower.
2. Cook the whole thing on the stove top on the lowest peep.
3. Tweak this for summer (hello, my Antipodean friends!), adding summer vegetables straight to the rice and cooking sauce – sweetcorn kernels, peas, zucchini, garden peppers – whatever you like.
4. Use another protein – think baked tofu pieces, leftover Thanksgiving turkey, toasted cashews. Or no added protein (there is a little in the rice, of course), if you are having this is a colourful part of a larger meal.
5. Swap some of the olive oil for ghee or coconut oil. It will have higher saturated fats, but if you have a diet low in saturates, either tweak can be part of a balanced and healthy diet.
Quick, Asian-style recipes on Food To Glow
If you like the idea of this recipe, but need something quicker for now, try one of these Food To Glow recipes. 🙂
Korean Vegetable Bulgogi – one of my very favourite main meals ever (BELOW)
Let me know below in the comments if you fancy making this Baked Winter Vegetable Pilau Rice dish. If you do make it, consider hitting the star ratings – under the thumbnail image in the recipe card below. And tell me and others what tweaks you made to make it your own. You can also feedback on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Thank you so much. xx
PS The East cookbook has a UK Amazon affiliate link. Buying on this link cost you no extra money but I get a few pence to help pay the bills!
Baked Winter Vegetable Pilau Rice
Despite the rather long list of ingredients, this is a straight-forward recipe. And, with its layers of tastes and textures, really well worth the small effort to make it. Warmly spiced, savoury vegetable rice, cooked in its own sauce - make it and enjoy the leftovers!
- 250 g cauliflower chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 250 g beetroot peeled and sliced into wedges
- 220 g celeriac peeled and cubed
- 350 g red cabbage cut into manageable chunks; optional
- 150 g carrots sliced into thick coins
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground fenugreek optional
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed rapeseed oil (UK)
- 1 tsp salt
Cooking Sauce and Rice
- 250 g basmati rice rinsed until the water runs clear*
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed rapeseed oil (UK)
- 1 red onion peeled and shopped or sliced
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 8 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 3 "finger" chillies chopped, seeds out if liked
- 15 g gingerroot peeled and chopped
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 30 g coriander/cilantro optional (this does make the rice rather green!)
- 2 tsp nigella seeds
- 200 g cooked chickpeas
A Simple Yogurt Drizzle
- 100 ml plain yogurt of choice coconut, dairy, soy, almond
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 30 g coriander/cilantro if not using in the cooking sauce (above)
Roasting the Vegetables
Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220C/425F. Gather two large baking trays, a large mixing bowl, blender or food processor.
Mix the spices and oil in a small bowl. Pop the cauliflower (and red cabbage if using) in the large bowl and sprinkle with up to half of the mixture. Toss until well-coated. Lay the florets on one baking tray in an even layer.
Put the beetroot, celeriac and carrot in the bowl and add the remaining spice oil, tossing well. Pour the vegetables onto the second baking tray in an even layer. If there isn't room for all, scooch the cauliflower down its tray a bit and add the overflow vegetables.
Place both trays in the preheated oven and roast for 25 minutes. Remove the cauliflower (and cabbage) and roast the remaining - hard - vegetables for a further 10 minutes, or until tender. Keep the oven on, and lay the vegetables to the side for now.
Cooking Sauce and Rice
Meanwhile make the cooking sauce and rinse the rice. For the rice, put it in a fine sieve and rinse it, using your hands to gently "massage" it, until the water is mainly clear. This will help the rice to stay nicely separate during the cooking process. Don't bother if this seems too much faff. Leave it in the sieve for now.
For the sauce, fry the onion in a large, lidded oven-proof casserole dish (such as a cast iron pot), adding the salt. Stir occasionally over eight minutes, until golden and fragrant. While the onions are cooking, add all the remaining sauce ingredients - except the chickpeas - to a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. Add this sauce to the onions, along with the rinsed rice, cooked chickpeas and 350 ml of just-boiled water. Bring back up to the boil, pop on the lid and place in the oven to steam-bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and stir in the roasted vegetables, replacing the lid. Steam-bake a further 10 minutes, depending on how absorbent the rice is. You want the rice cooked and fluffy when lifted with a fork.
Mix together the ingredients and serve in a jug with the Pilau. If you are using the coriander here instead of the cooking sauce, mix up in a blender. Season to taste.
I have both cauliflower and red cabbage in, but as they are very similar you may want to leave one of them out. This won't change the overall dish.
As stated in the recipe, you can use the coriander/cilantro in either the cooking sauce or the yogurt sauce. The former will colour the rice (as shown). Either tastes great. My daughter has tasted this both ways and prefers the coriander in the yogurt sauce. Go with whichever.
You may prefer a different - or no - protein. I used cooked chickpeas, but if this is part of a larger meal, leave them out if you wish. The chickpeas make it a more complete meal. Use 200 or so grams of leftover cooked turkey (if after Thanksgiving), chicken or lamb if you wish.
Pin now. Make soon!