Monday, February 28, 2011

Simple, Perfect Indian Rice

   It may seem odd at first that I am writing a blog about rice.  Many people, especially Southern Americans, view rice as "that starch on the plate."  It is one of the main carbohydrate sides.  So yeah... it is that starch on the plate, but it can be so much more!  Americans tend to treat rice as the bed for something else and therefore skip over it when planning the flavors in their menu.  Boiled rice.  Yum.  Other cultures take a little more pride in the side because it is often the bulk of the meal.  So it may as well taste good!  The fragrent basmati rice served in Indian restaurants is my absolute favorite.

   Last week, when planning and shopping for the Indian meal, I stopped by Spice of Indian on Carothers in Cool Springs (Franklin, TN.)  While happily cruising the aisles, I started chatting with the owner.  He gave me advice on my main dishes.  As we were checking out, he asked if I was making all the food.
"How are you doing the rice?"
"Toasting it then boiling it?"
"Let ME tell you OUR 5-step process."
"THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!"
It was the best rice I had ever made!  This process is the most amazing thing I have learned so far in 2011.  I really hope you try this out.  It is not hard and it is so delicious.  Flavorful, yet still neutral enough to pair with just about anything (doesn't even have to be Indian.)  I'm a little confused as to what exactly the 5 distinct steps are.  I labeled what I think they are in the recipe, but don't worry about that too much.  Just follow these directions.
Indian Style Rice
2 Tbsp neutral flavored oil (canola, vegetable, etc.)
1/2 large onion, diced
1 tsp cuming seeds
1 C basmati rice
1 C (plus more) water
salt (1/8-1/4 tsp depending on your personal taste)

  (1) Rinse rice twice under cool water.  (First rinse: removes dirt, Second rinse: removes starch...... his words, not mine.)
   Heat oil in sauce pan over medium-high heat.  (2) Add onion and cumin seeds, fry until lightly golden.  (Stir constantly to avoid burning.)  It will take about 4 minutes.  (3) Add 1/2 C water.  Add rice.  Stir for 1 minute.  (4) Add another 1/2 C water and salt.  Cook 4-5 minutes.  Then add water so it is 1/4 inch over the rice.  (The key apparently is 1/4 inch water above rice for every cup of rice.  EX: 2 C rice=1/2 inch water.)
   (5) Bring to boil.  Cover.  Reduce to simmer.  Cook 20 minutes.
   TIP:  If rice is not done after 20 minutes and all the water is absorbed:  Lightly sprinkle with water, a tablespoon or so, and cook another 3-4 minutes.  This works for all kinds of rice.  (This is the owner's tip.  I tried it and it worked!)
   Serves 4

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