Full of the joys of spring. Fennel’s fresh aniseed flavour mellows as it cooks to provide a nice backdrop to the asparagus and crunchy broad beans. If you haven’t the tenacity to double pod the broad beans, use peas. I don’t think this pilau needs anything except a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of yoghurt but it would go well with a chicken or fish curry.
This recipe was first written for Associated Press.
- 350g basmati rice
- 750ml vegetable stock
- 30g unsalted butter
- 2 red onions, finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 green finger chillies, vey finely sliced
- 250g or 1 medium bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
- 250-300g asparagus, cut into 4cm pieces
- 200g broad beans, double podded or peas
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
- A big handful of mint and dill, chopped
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
First, wash the rice until the water runs clear, then leave to soak for 20 minutes. Add the rice to a large lidded saucepan and cover with the stock. Cover and bring to the boil, boil for 2 minutes and then turn the heat down to a whisper and leave to cook for 10-12 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave to steam through until needed.
Heat the butter over a medium heat in a large lidded pan. When hot, add the onions. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the onions are translucent and softening but not yet coloured, then add the garlic and chillies and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the fennel to the pan, stir to mix then add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover. Cook for 8 minutes or until soft then add the asparagus, broad beans, cumin, garam masala and salt to taste (I add 3/4 – 1 tsp) . Stir and cover and leave to cook for another 5 minutes, then take off the heat.
Fold the herbs and rice into the vegetable mixture, you might need to delicately break up the clumps of rice using your hands. Transfer to a serving dish, and serve with wedges of lemon on the side.