A family friend taught me how to make a middle eastern pilaf rice (they were originally from Bagdad) while I was a student. Over the years I’ve slightly adapted the ingredients and added turmeric to the mix (for colour and it’s amazing health properties) to give you the best tasting rice you’ll ever eat.
Green cardamom pods, a sprinkling of cinnamon and bright yellow turmeric add fragrance and colour. The chicken stock creates the right amount of savouriness and the fried onions lots of sweetness.
I only use Basmati for this recipe and my favourite is Tilda. Tilda is the only brand that’s widely available and is a ‘pure’ Basmati rice. Pure Basmati rice is a particular variety grown in India with an amazing nutty flavour and long white grains. As it is a difficult crop to grow and so little of it is available, it’s DNA tested to ensure it is a pure Basmati. Unfortunately, any hybrid of Basmati can be labelled as a Basmati rice so it’s impossible for you to know if you are buying pure Basmati. Hybrid Basmati is not particularly flavourful. The price of basmati is a good way to know if it’s pure – pure Basmati is at least twice as expensive (unfortunately) as a hybrid Basmati, but you will definitely taste the difference in flavour!
This beautifully flavoured rice goes so well with the seared pork fillet or pan fried duck recipe.
Ingredients 1 cup Tilda Basmati rice (I like white rice) 1 small onion finely chopped A handful of broken vermicelli pasta 5 whole green cardamom pods ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 500ml Chicken stock (my favourite is a no salt stock from Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients) 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to season
Method Place a medium size sauce pan that has a tight fitting lid on a medium heat. Add the oil and the finely chopped onions. Fry for 5 minutes and allow the onions too slightly brown and caramelise.
Add the broken vermicelli and the cardamom pods and fry for another few minutes. The vermicelli will start to brown and the pods will swell a little bit.
Add the Basmati rice and stir to coat the grains in the oil. Add the turmeric, cinnamon, salt, a few grinds of black pepper and all the chicken stock. Stir well so the spices are mixed in. Put the lid on and keep a close eye on the saucepan until the stock starts to simmer, about 3 minutes. As soon as it simmers, move the pan to the smallest ring/heat source on your cooker and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Set the timer for 16 minutes and do NOT lift the lid. You need to keep all the hot steam in the pan to cook the rice.
Once the 16 minutes are up, turn the heat off but do NOT remove the lid. Leave the lid on for another 10 minutes. This gives the rice a chance to re-absorb all the steam and any condensation in the closed pan so when you finally open the lid, the rice is ‘dry’ and does not stick together.
Open the lid and remove all the cardamom pods (they float to the top so they are easy to pick out). Fork the rice to separate the grains and serve.
Preparation time 5 minutes, cooking 20 minutes, serves 4