Morel Pilau with Wild Garlic Raitha
This recipe is based on a traditional one from Kashmir. Morels can be found growing in the cool foothills of the Himalayas, and this fragrant rice dish, known as gucchi pilau, is cooked in celebration of their short season. You could serve the rice as a side dish, but in Kashmir it would the star of the show. We serve ours with a vibrant raitha made with wild garlic, which is around when the morels are out in the UK.
- 200g morels
- 2 mugs of white basmati rice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 15g butter
- 2 onions, quartered and cut into fine slices
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2.5cm stick of cinnamon
- 6 cardomom pods
- 4 cloves
- 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons salt
FOR THE WILD GARLIC RAITHA
- 25g wild garlic leaves
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large tomato
- 450ml Greek-style yogurt
- Clean the morels using a small brush to remove any dirt or detritus, paying particular attention to the honeycomb caps. Trim away and discard any dried stem ends and slice the morels in half. Clean the hollow interior of the mushrooms with the brush and set them aside.
- Wash the rice in several changes of cold water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in warm water for exactly 20 minutes – set a timer, and if the soaking time is up before you’re ready to add the rice (see below), just drain it in a sieve and keep it ready. (This washing and pre-soaking helps give beautifully fluffy, separate grains of rice.)
- Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy based pan (one that has a lid). Add the onions and fry over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until just starting to turn golden at the edges. Add the prepared morels and the garlic and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the spices. Cook gently for a few minutes, until the spices are aromatic, then add 3 mugfuls of water (use the same mug as you used to measure out the rice) to the pan and bring up to a boil.
- When the rice has had its 20 minutes soaking, drain it and add it to the simmering liquid along with the salt. Stir gently but thoroughly once, then reduce the heat to low and put the lid on the pan. Cook the rice, without stirring, for 15 minutes then turn off the heat. Lift the lid and use a butter knife to part the rice from the side of the pan and peek down to the bottom. Almost all of the liquid should have evaporated and the rice ever so slightly undercooked (if the rice needs more cooking, add a little more boiling water and cook for a few more minutes). Lay a sheet of kitchen towel over the surface of the rice, replace the lid and leave to stand off the heat for at least 5 minutes, until the pilau is fluffy and perfectly cooked.
- Meanwhile, make the raitha. Rinse the wild garlic leaves and drain them, then put them in a mini processor with the salt and green chilli and blitz to a rough paste. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then tip into a mortar and lightly crush. Quarter the tomato and remove and discard the seeds. Chop finely and stir into the yoghurt with the wild garlic paste. Sprinkle with the crushed roasted cumin and serve the raitha alongside the pilau.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK