This recipe is inspired by something my Pakistani graduate school friend used to make. A hearty rice dish that was a one dish meal, enriched with her black cardamoms and complete with a generous dose of butter. It might be argued that you might add clarified butter to this, but back then in a graduate school setting that might be a novelty. She added chunks of fish (canned sardines) to this recipe, it is still my go to comfort food.
Over time, I have made my own modifications, I have added Vidalia onions and through in the diced potatoes that my mother adds to her fish pilaf to seal the flavors of this dish. I also like to squeeze in fresh lime juice over the rice before serving. —Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles
Test Kitchen Notes
This is indeed a comforting recipe -- the spices are pleasantly fragrant, but mellow; the texture of the rice is soft, almost creamy. And it looks lovely, too. The fish is an unusual, but welcome component, melding in nicely with the other ingredients. Any fishiness is mellowed out by the spices so this might be a good recipe to try if you're trying to eat more sardines, but are turned off by the strong flavors. The dish also has a really nice variety of textures -- crunchy fried potatoes, tender eggplant, flaky fish and soft rice. A friendly, tasty dish all around. —vrunka