Basmati rice, grown primarily in India and Pakistan, is one of the world’s most fragrant rices, a quality that blossoms during a year of post-harvest aging.
Oliver’s Markets carries a brand of this rice from India, called Himalayan Pride. It comes in a 5-pound reusable cloth bag. This long-grained rice cooks up perfectly fluffy, is delightfully fragrant and is delicious on its own, in congee, and as a foundation for some of the world’s best rice dishes, such as India’s biryani.
There is a perception that brown rice is always preferable — especially nutritionally — to white rice, but not everyone agrees. Brown rice is harder to digest than white and has a pronounced nutlike flavor that is delicious but not suited to all dishes, which is to say that it is not a good idea to simply substitute brown rice when white rice is called for, no matter how many web recipes tell you it’s just fine. It’s not.
Brown rice, which requires much longer cooking than white rice, should be appreciated for its own qualities and seasonings and other additions should support these characteristics. It is not quite the blank canvas that white rice can be.
Tune in next week for an exploration of brown rice, red rice and black rice.
Although there are a lot of ingredients in this dish, it is not difficult or particularly time-consuming to make, especially if you are not in a rush.
It’s not the sort of dish you want to throw together on a busy weeknight — but if you like to cook on Sundays, you can enjoy it on Monday and maybe even Tuesday if you’re not feeding more than a couple of people. It keeps well.
If you are feeding a larger group, this makes an excellent contribution to a potluck, especially one where there will be a lot of vegetarians.
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin half rounds
2 medium carrots, preferably white or pale yellow, peeled and cut into thin half rounds
5 tablespoons clarified butter
— Kosher salt
1 teaspoon white mustard seeds
1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and grated on the large blade of a box grater
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne or other ground hot chili, to taste
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
— Black pepper in a mill
1 14-ounce can coconut milk, to taste
5 cups cooked basmati rice (from about 11/2 cups raw rice), cooled
½ cup raisins
¼ cup diced dried apricots
½ cup roasted and salted cashews
4 tablespoons fresh mint, very thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
— Several saffron threads
½ cup vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt or raita (see Note below)
— Homemade or commercial chutney of choice