I'm loving this millet pilaf recipe at the moment. Healthy, vegan, gluten free and easy to make, it pretty much ticks all the boxes. In fact pilafs in general are a very tasty and easy way to incorporate healthier grains into your diet.
This pilaf combines fragrant spices, smoky vegetables and chickpeas for a flavoursome and satisfying dish with a middle eastern influence. It is a little different because it is cooked partly in the oven. I did this firstly because I love the soft smokiness of oven-baked eggplant. I also find that the millet absorbs the flavours of the vegetables and spices beautifully when cooked this way. Finally, I know people sometimes have problems avoiding mushy millet. The method below ensures perfectly fluffy grains.
1 cup (180g) of millet
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups (475mls) of water
1 eggplant (aubergine), roughly about 450g or 1 pound in weight
1 red bell pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of crushed cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
1 teaspoon of crushed allspice berries (or ground allspice)
1 teaspoon of dried mint
½ teaspoon of chili flakes
1 15oz/425g can of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans)
Preheat the oven to a moderately hot temperature - 400F/200C. Next start cooking the millet. Place the millet in a dry saucepan over a medium heat, stirring for a few minutes until a nutty aroma is emitted. Some of the grains may start to pop. Add the water and salt, cover and bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down and cook very gently for about 15 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed and the millet is light and fluffy. Remove from the heat and fluff up the millet with a fork.
While the millet is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Cut the eggplant and bell pepper into small chunks and toss them into a large oven-proof dish or roasting tray with the shallots, garlic, olive oil, cumin, allspice, mint and chili flakes.
Stir well to coat the vegetables with the oil and spices, then cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are quite soft.
Add the cooked millet and the drained chickpeas to the pan, stirring well. Return to the oven and cook for another 8-10 minutes.
Serve immediately. This millet recipe should serve 4 as a main course.