Spicy Aromatic Rice

This is a really simple way to liven up that boring rice side dish. In fact with the right aromatics it can even shine as a main dish. I think I first came across the idea for this dish in a Nigel Slater cookbook I have. The recipe below is nothing like his, but it is his creative genius that inspired me. I have used different types of aromatics from woody herbaceous, middle eastern, to spicy Thai. I have also used just about every type of rice known to man. I hope Nigel’s inspiration shines through and you to will be compelled to experiment just as I was. The recipe that follows is my wife’s favourite. Enjoy.

What you need:

  • 500g bag of Basmati rice
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup currants or raisins 
  • 1/4 cup olive or sesame oil
  • 1 sweet onion finely chopped 
  • 10 green cardamom pods (green husks removed)
  • 2 teaspoons of coriander 
  • 10 small dried red chillies (adjust to your desired heat level)
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (Indian spice mix)
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric 
  • 4 or 5 dried sage leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste

How it’s done:

  • Grate your ginger and place it in a bowl with the currants or raisins
  • Cover with boiling water and let stand
  • Using a mortar and pestle grind your coriander, cardamom, and peppercorns
  • In a pot without oil over medium heat add your previously ground items with the chillies, garam masala, turmeric, sage leaves and dried ginger
  • Heat to release all the essential oils in the aromatics (about 2-3 min)
  • Add the oil and onion, heating gently for another minute or so
  • Add the rice making sure that it is well coated with the spice mixture
  • Add currants and ginger
  • Add the correct amount of water (usually with basmati I use a 2:1 ratio) and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 min until done 
  • Remove from heat, add your cilantro and sprinkle with sugar, mix well and adjust the salt to your preference 
  • As in the picture, I serve this with a nice creamy full fat yogurt (yes full fat), it helps to cut the heat from the chillies
  • Give this a try, and be creative utilizing the aromatics you have in your cupboard 
  • Eat well and enjoy!
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