I love to listen to BBC Radio 4 when I’m cooking: it’s a soothing backdrop to all the frenetic chopping, frying, and clattering that can happen in my kitchen. Once upon a Gardeners’ Question Time, a member of the audience asked for suggestions for what to do with an overabundance of summer greens. I remember thinking that it was a good question, and made this dish as an answer: a bountiful pilau, substantial, flavorful, but light enough for a summer’s evening. So if you’re reading this, Mr. Trusty of Guildford, this is for you.
NOTE: Only add the fava beans if you have the tenacity to shell them; if not, just add more peas.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course
1½ cups basmati rice
1 cup fava beans, shelled
1¾ cups hot vegetable stock
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1¾-inch cinnamon stick
2 large onions, finely sliced
1¾-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Indian green chiles, finely sliced
1 head broccoli, broken into 1¾-inch florets
1 zucchini (about ½ pound), sliced
1½ cups peas (fresh or defrosted)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
11/3 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
a large handful of fresh dill
a large handful of fresh mint leaves
lemon wedges, to serve
Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then leave to soak for 20 minutes, or in warm water for 10 minutes if you can’t wait that long. In the meantime, place the fava beans in a pan and cover briefly with boiling water. Then drain and place in a pan of cold water. Squeeze each one gently to remove its thick outer skin.
When the rice has soaked, make up the vegetable stock and pour into a deep lidded saucepan. Drain the rice, then add to the stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, then cover with the lid, turn the heat down, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave to rest and steam.
Put the oil into a large lidded pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick. Leave to sizzle until fragrant, then add the onions. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent and softening but not yet colored, then add the ginger, garlic, and green chiles and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the broccoli florets to the pan, stir to mix, then add 5 tablespoons of water and cover immediately so the broccoli can steam through. After 2 minutes add the zucchini and a couple more tablespoons of water, and after another couple of minutes add the fava beans, peas, black pepper, and salt. Cook for another minute or two, then take the mixture off the heat and fold in the rice. You might need to delicately break up the clumps of rice using your hands.
Once the greens and rice are mixed, check the salt, then transfer to a serving dish. Tear up the herbs and sprinkle over. Serve with wedges of lemon and yogurt, or a raita, like the beet raita here.