I don’t know about you, but I often become obsessed with one food. I’ll suddenly make carrot soup every week or try salmon 10 different ways in a single month. Right now, I’m on a rice kick, which is surprising since I didn’t love rice growing up – we ate mostly meat and potatoes. When we had rice, it was always plain without much seasoning, so it was kind of boring. For years, I avoided making rice, and when I was forced to, it was almost never fluffy and flavorful.
I forced myself to learn how to make perfect rice now that I cook so many Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian dishes. Many cultures prepare rice in many different ways – one day soon I’ll show you how to make Persian jeweled rice (if you beg me enough and maybe make me cookies) – but there is very simple fool-proof way of making any long-grain rice that is perfect every time. The key is that every grain must be coated in some sort of oil or fat.
We are lucky enough to live near Sayad (http://www.sayadmarket.com), a great Middle Eastern grocer and a great place to buy ingredients, including many types of basmati rice. I came across this smoked rice – which apparently Persians love – called Scheherazade Black Label (I know, right? You’d think we were talking Scotch!). The rice is grown in India, but smoked in Germany with a special blend of woods. It smells like the best bonfire ever. It almost looks like pasta and the aroma of burning timbers hits you immediately when you open the bag. Fortunately, I you can also get this extraordinary rice online at Kalamala (http://www.kalamala.com/products/basmati-rice-black-label), a great resource for Middle Eastern products, and it is also available at Amazon in smaller quantities. This amazing rice is also the longest in the world with the grain averaging nearly 20 mm (almost ¾ inch) long. And on top of everything else, it is incredibly fluffy. The grains curl but they don’t break. It isn’t everyday I would describe rice as beautiful, but it really is.
So go buy this rice online or visit a Middle Eastern store, and use this fool-proof recipe to make this any basmati rice you like. And then make Khoresh-e Fesenjan Ba Jujeh, Persian Chicken Pomegranate stew we told you about earlier this week (if you do, please let us know!)
Do you know of any other unusual rices or do you have an unique preparation? Let us know so we can share the joy of rice with others!
Cardamom Scented Basmati Rice
- 2 cups basmati rice*
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ¼ -1/3 cups water (depending on the brand)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons cardamom**
- Rinse the rice in a fine mesh colander 4-5 times until the water is no longer cloudy. Drain well.
- Melt the butter in a 4-6 quart heavy bottom pot over medium heat.
- Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes until all the grains are coated with butter.
- Stir in the water and salt and bring the rice mixture to a boil.
- Mix one more time, and then reduce heat to low. Place a sheet of parchment paper between the lid and the pot and cover.
- Let rice cook for 18-20 minutes (depending on the brand of rice) until the liquid is absorbed.
- Take it off the burner and let the rice stand covered for 10 minutes (Do not lift the lid or stir!).
- Uncover rice and add cardamom. Fluff rice and serve.
*This recipe works for jasmine scented rice as well.
**You may also leave out the cardamom if the dish you are serving is complex and does not need a boos of additional flavor.