Rice is a huge part of the Middle Eastern cuisine. It is present on most of our tables in some form. Many main dishes are rice based, and most of our stews we eat alongside rice. In this case we prefer our rice to be plain in order for the stew flavors to come through. But plain doesn't have to be boring. Todays recipe is plain white rice, but it is no ordinary plain rice.
We need long grain rice, Basmati or Sella will do. It has to be washed and soaked. A great tip for soaking long grain rice is soaking it in hot water. This prevents the rice grains from sticking to each other and the cooked rice is nice and fluffy. If you haven't tried this yet, try it once and you'll never go back to soaking in cold water. You must know though that hot water soaked rice absorbs less liquid while cooking. So each cup of rice requires only one cup of liquid. Please measure your liquid and rice for the perfect outcome.
What makes this rice special are the aromatics. I love spices, but too much spice is over powering and confuses the taste buds. Today I will be using whole spices, black pepper corns, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves. Add to all that flavor 2-3 slices of orange peel (use only the orange part, the white part is bitter). The flavor combination is out of this world good. You are eating something simple yet so flavorful. To finish it off, I like to garnish with some toasted or fried almond slices and fried raisins. YUM!
- 2 cups long grain rice (Basmati / Sella)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5-6 cloves
- 5-10 black pepper corns
- 3 slices of orange peel
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Fried almond slices
- Fried raisins
- Chopped parsley
*Start off by washing your rice and soaking it in hot water like I mentioned earlier. This is a major step, do not skip it.
*After 30-60 minutes the rice is nice and soaked, drain it. (you can leave it for longer if you want to, but no less than 30 minutes).
*In a hot non stick pan pour the vegetable oil. Drop in the whole spices and wait for their oils to heat and release the beautiful aromas. This takes a few seconds, you do not want the oil to burn.
*Now add in the drained rice and toss it with the oil and spices on medium to high heat for a while. You want to toast the rice slightly. This step is important and makes a world of difference.
*Pour in the hot water and drop in the orange peel slices and the nob of butter. (Still on high heat)
*When the rice is boiling vigorously, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover tightly and leave to fully cook.
*When you want to check on the rice, use a fork and not a spoon, to prevent breaking any rice grains.
*When the rice absorbs all the liquid and is fully dry it is done, turn of the heat.
*Plate it and garnish with the fried nuts, raisins and chopped parsley. Really good.