I brought Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction cookbook to work with me and read through it as I had my morning cup of coffee. I ended up looking at her recipe for cranberry-cashew biryani and knew I needed to make it.
However, as much as I love her recipes and love that in this cookbook everything is 400 calories or less per serving, I wanted to change the recipe to fit my taste buds better.
My sister and I were emailing each other all day talking about recipes, our mom’s recipes, cooking and planning my visit to Chicago in March (hooray!). I told her about this recipe and how I wanted to change it to fit my dietary needs. She reminded me that “biryani” is actually all spice. It does not usually have dried fruit in it, and I wanted to use some kind of dried fruit. So we both realized what I wanted to make, was really a pulao or pilaf.
The biggest changes I made were the cooking process in general, using quinoa over Basmati rice to help keep it low-carb for me, and using dried apricots instead of cranberries.
If you didn’t know, apricots and cumin are two of the most yummy flavors when combined. Next time you make a curry dish with cumin, add a little dried apricot in there – your world will change completely.
This dish turned out amazing. How do I know that? When REB got home from class and had it for dinner, he said, and I quote, “Whole Foods should have this in their hot bar.”
This is how I know this recipe is a keeper. And how I know he’s a keeper too ;)
- ¾ cup quinoa
- ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1½ cups frozen mixed vegetable blend (my blend has carrots, peas, green beans and corn kernels)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (I make mine fresh, but you can use store bought)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup unsalted whole cashews, toasted
- Cilantro (optional garnish)
- In a rice cooker or medium pot, cook quinoa according to packaging instructions. I used ¾ cup quinoa, with 1½ cups water in my rice cooker.
- Add the chopped dried apricots directly to the quinoa so they cook together — the quinoa took about 20-25 minutes to cook in the cooker. May take longer on stovetop.
- When the quinoa is cooked, pour into a bowl and set aside
- In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.
- Add the mustard and cumin seeds, cover the pot with a lid and let the seeds start to pop.
- Next add the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for one minute.
- Add the frozen mixed vegetables, garam masala, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes and stir well for one minute.
- Add the tomato paste and water and stir.
- Cover the dish and let it come to a boil and reduce so the curry is slightly thickened and most of the water is gone- about 3-5 minutes.
- While the curry is boiling away, toast the cashews in a small, dry pan until golden
- When the curry has reduced, add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir well to combine all the flavors. Give it a taste and adjust your spices if needed.
- Toss in the toasted cashews.
- Serve immediately with pickle, chutney or additional curry dish.
- Optional garnish: chopped cilantro
After doing the math, I found that this recipe was only 229 calories per serving, almost 5g of fiber and almost 8g of protein. I think next time I might add some garbanzo beans or mushrooms to up the ante on the protein.
What are some of your favorite cookbook recipes?