12 January 2010

Delicious Indian Basmati Rice with Spinach

So I promised another 660 Curries recipe, and I am coming through on that promise right now.  Since making the dal recipe I just posted and the rice dish I am telling you about today, I have made several more vegetarian Indian meals.  I cannot talk enough about how much I have fallen in love with vegetarian Indian food. I must sound like a complete broken record.  Think of me as a girl who just went on 3rd date with the guy she thinks she's gonna marry.  That is how I feel. All gushy and happy and in love. Delicious food makes me all aquiver with excitement.

This rice dish was a lovely complement to the Masoor Pyaaz Dal. It wasn't hard for me to throw together while I was fretting over the dal.  I loved the very clear, explicit instructions that Raghaven Iyer gives in his book for preparing perfect Basmati rice. In fact, I have used his method for cooking plain Basmati rice and been thrilled with the results.  He even goes so far as to give different times based on electric or gas stove tops - so handy and informative!  I felt comfortable making a slight addition to the rice, which was to include extra chopped, fresh spinach at the end of cooking to increase the vegetables in my meal. 

Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion (Palak Pulao)

from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer

1 cup basmati rice
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 cups firmly packed fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed, patted dry, and
coarsely chopped
sea salt to taste (optional)

Place the rice in a medium-sized bowl. Fill the bowl halfway with water, to cover the rice. Gently rub the slender grains through your fingers, without breaking them, to wash off any dust or light foreign objects (like loose husks), which will float to the surface. The water will become cloudy. Drain this water. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now fill the bowl halfway with cold water and let it sit at room temperature until the grains soften, 20-30 minutes; drain.

Heat the ghee in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle, turn reddish-brown, and smell aromatic, about 5-10 seconds.  Then stir in the onion and add a handful of spinach. Lower the heat to medium and stir until the greens wilt, about 1 minute. Repeat until all the spinach has been added. Then cook the onion-spinach mixture until all the liquid has evaporated and the onion has turned soft and honey-brown, 15-20 minutes.

Add the drained rice and toss it gently with the onion-spinach mixture. Pour in 1 1/2 cups cold water, and add the salt if desired. Stir the rice once to incorporate the ingredients. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the water has evaporated from the surface and craters are starting to appear in the rice, 5 to 8 minutes. Now (and ONLY now) stir once to bring the partially cooked layer from the bottom of the pan to the surface. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cook for 8-10 minutes (8 for an electric burner, 10 for a gas burner). Then turn off the heat and let the pan stand on that burner, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork, (I added an additional handful of chopped spinach here) and serve.


Cate O'Malley said...

Love Basmati rice and Indian food. I don't cook it as often as I'd like, but one of the moms in our Moms Club caters Indian food and makes me an order twice a month. Great way to discover new things. Your dish looks great!

Laura said...

Cool, I never noticed those rice instructions. For plain basmati I am totally loyal to the pasta method, as you know, but I will have to try this next time I am making a pilaf of any kind.

bed frame said...

I love the spice of Indian food. At first Indian food may not be that good in the eyes but it really tastes good!

grace said...

although i'm not a huge lover of indian food, how can i resist the words "buttery rice"? i'm glad you've found a cuisine that makes you happy and aquiver, which incidentally is an awesome word. :)