Pilaffs are tasy rice dishes of the Middle East, central Asia and India. The recipes will vary enormously depending on the region, but the rice, preferably long-grained Basmati rice is usually cooked in butter or oil, with onions and cooked in a flavoured stock until the rice absorbs the stock. Pilaffs can be plain or flavoured with fresh herbs and aromatic spices with addition of either meat, vegetables, chicken or fish. Nuts and dried fruits stirred through towards the end of cooking are popular additions to pilaffs too.
For the Meatballs: 675g/1½lb lean lamb mince 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 5-10ml/1-2tsp ground cumin 10ml/2tsp ground coriander 5-10ml/1-2tsp ground paprika Salt and freshly milled black pepper 2.5cm/1inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
For the Pilaff: 30ml/2tbsp oil 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 x 5cm/2inch piece cinnamon stick, halved 5ml/1tsp garam masala 400g/14oz Basmati or long grained white rice 750ml/1¼pint good, hot lamb or chicken stock 30ml/2tbsp pistachio nuts or toasted flaked almonds 30ml/2tbsp dried cranberries or sultanas 45ml/3tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. To prepare the meatballs; in a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. Shape the mixture into small balls the size of walnuts, transfer to a large plate, cover and refrigerate until required.
2. For the pilaff; heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the onion until soft and slightly coloured. Add the spices and stir in the rice. Add the stock, season, bring to the boil and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick.
3. Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the meatballs in batches for 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally until brown and cooked through.
4. To the rice, gently add the pistachio nuts or flaked almonds, cranberries or sultanas and parsley. Stir through the rice. Drain the meatballs on absorbant kitchen paper and position over the pilaff.