Thursday, 1 January 2015

Fragrant cumin rice

Let's begin with basics. Rice. A staple at many meal tables around the world. A food so common where I come from that "to eat lunch/dinner" is often referred to as "to eat rice." 

While there are many varieties of rice now available, my favourite, and most often used is basmati. I like it for its elegant long grains and the delicate texture. I like my rice to remain separate, each grain fluffy and cooked just right. To achieve this, I think two things are important. One, is to wash the rice first until the water runs clear. If I have time, I will sometimes soak the rice for half an hour before cooking. But this is not always possible, and a good wash should be just fine. Second, the proportion of water to rice should be right to achieve the desired texture. I use one part rice to one and a half parts water. If I have soaked the rice prior to cooking, I will use equal parts of water and rice.

I know people who cook their rice much like you would cook pasta - in a large pot with a lot of water and then drain the excess water. I cook my rice covered and on a low heat. Once the water has been absorbed, I turn off the heat and let the pan remain covered for a few minutes before I fluff up the rice. 

While plain rice is the everyday side dish, I like to add different flavourings to it every so often. Fragrant cumin rice is firm favourite in our home.

Fragrant Cumin Rice
Serves 4

2 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 rampe leaves, cut into two inch lengths
3 cups chicken stock

Wash the rice in several changes of water. Drain. Heat oil in a pan, and saute the onions till translucent. Add the cumin seeds and rampe leaves and give it a stir before adding the drained rice. Saute, making sure the grains of rice get coated in the oil. Add salt and the stock. Stir. Then cover with a tight lid and bring to the boil. Once bubbling, turn the heat to the lowest and let the rice cook till all the water has been absorbed. Turn off heat. After a few minutes, uncover and fluff up the rice. Serve hot with a curry or as an accompaniment to grilled/roasted main dish.

If there are any leftovers, they can be stored in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for several weeks. To reheat, microwave or heat in a low oven till piping hot.

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