Friday, April 20, 2007

Basmati Rice Pilaf

This recipe is adapted from the January-February 1997 issue of Cook's Illustrated Magazine when Christopher Kimball was still running the show.  It is very fragrant and delicious enough to dress up what might otherwise be a plain meal.  The original recipe calls for water.  Instead, I usually use a vegetable broth made from Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base but occasionally use chicken broth if it is better with what else is on the plate.

Basmati Rice Pilaf

Serves 4

1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil 
1 3-inch (or so) cinnamon stick, broken in two
2 whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup chopped onion, not too coarse but not minced either
1 cup basmati rice
1½ cups of vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water (see note above)
1 teaspoon salt
Small pat of butter (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves, and cook, stirring, for about one minute. 

Add the chopped onion, and cook, stirring until it just starts to turn gold, but don't let it brown or caramelize.

Stir in the rice, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add 1½ cups water or chicken broth and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Add the ground cardamom now.  Stir once, cover tightly, and simmer until all the broth or water has been absorbed.  This will take 15 to 17 minutes.  I generally move to the next step after 15 minutes without lifting the lid because I've found that 15 minutes works well. But this might have some nuance involved - your pot, the level of your heat, etc. You will figure out what works for you after making the recipe for the first time.

Turn off the heat. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes, then remove the lid, and fluff the rice with a fork. If you're going to add a pat of butter, now is the time, stirring it in with a fork.

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