I tried this rice pilaf and tomato-onion raita when I went over to my boyfriend's parents' house for dinner for the first time, and of all the food we had that evening, this dish was easily my favorite. After six years, I finally got the recipe and found that it's as simple to make as it is delicious and satisfying. The tangy, cooling yogurt raita (which can also be made with raw onion and tomato), vegetable rice pilaf, and crispy papad (a super-thin flatbread you can pan-fry or microwave) all comes together in well under an hour and the leftovers can happily be enjoyed for days on end.
You start by forming the pilaf’s spice base: Gently melt some ghee in a large skillet and heat up the spices until they are aromatic; careful not to let them burn (I accidentally did the first time I made it). Then, you slowly build from there: Stir in minced garlic and ginger, and finely chopped green chiles (they are small, but don’t underestimate their spice); add the peas, carrots, and green beans and sauté until tender but still firm. For a sweet, crunchy touch without which this dish would be incomplete, golden raisins and cashews are toasted and bathed in ghee. Oh, and don't forget about the mint and cilantro—it's a bright, fresh element that keeps me craving this recipe from summer to winter. —Erin Alexander
Featured in the story, The Indian Rice Pilaf That Closed the Gap Between Your Family & Mine. —The Editors