Basmati rice is a unique grain grown in the foothills of the Himalayas in India and Pakistan. It is prized for its special nut-like aroma and beautiful long, slender grains; in fact, the Hindi word "basmati" means fragrant. Basmati rice is great simply steamed (it doesn't even need salt), especially when you are serving it as a base for a flavorful curry. Sometimes I like to jazz it up a bit and make the rice into a dish that can stand alone. In this recipe, onion and cumin seeds add touches of flavor while butter adds richness. You can use white or brown basmati rice in this dish. I prefer white rice but brown rice does have a higher fiber content (keep in mind that brown rice also takes longer to cook.) Although it takes a bit more effort, this recipe is easy enough that you could make it any time you are serving Indian food.
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2 cups basmati rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
2-2/3 cups water

Cooking Instructions

Place the rice in a bowl and cover with water. Stir the rice a couple of times with your hand and then drain. Do this several times until the water runs clear. Place the rice back into the bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes to one hour. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the vegetable oil and butter over medium heat in a large pot, preferably nonstick. Cook the onion, without letting it brown, stirring frequently, until softened (about 4 minutes.) Add the garlic and cumin seeds and cook for another minute. Add the drained rice and cook, stirring to coat the rice in the oil, until slightly golden (about 10 minutes). Add the salt and water and bring to a boil. Cover very tightly, turn the heat down to very low, and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and leave the pot covered and undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings



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Buy basmati rice in the packaged or bulk grain section at your grocery, health food or specialty store. Try to buy rice from a store that has a lot of turnover so that you are guaranteed to get the freshest rice possible. Store rice in a cool, dry area in a sealed glass or plastic container, away from the open air and moisture.

Soaking the rice helps to keep the grains separate when cooked. Basmati rice has less of a tendency than other rices to become mushy so, if you are pressed for time, you can skip this step. Be sure to always rinse the rice several times, however, to remove any additives or milling dust that can make the cooked rice sticky.

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