3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into small dice
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
2 tsp. kosher salt
Crispy Fried Okra (recipe follows)
For the okra:
1 lb. fresh okra
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
Wash and dry the okra. Cut off both ends, then slice the okra in 1/8-inch rounds. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the okra in one even layer and let it sizzle for one minute. Reduce the heat to medium. Fry the okra, tossing it occasionally, until crispy brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the okra from the oil with a skimmer and spread it out over paper towels.
For the rice:
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger and stir constantly, so as to not burn the onions or garlic, for about six minutes. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves and continue to cook, stirring, until the spices become fragrant, about two minutes. Add the rice and continue stirring so that all of the rice gets covered in a little oil (it’s okay if the rice browns a little).
Add the water and salt. Stir the rice to prevent it from settling and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 10 to 12 minutes. After most of the water has been absorbed, cover the pan tightly and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Let the rice steam for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. When ready to serve, uncover the rice, fluff it with a fork, and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Stir in the fried okra.
Serve the cauliflower and the okra pilaf with naan, available at Whole Foods.