I played with my food today. I had cooked some spicy chicken stew and I needed a rice dish to go with it. I had some basmati rice and knew that I wanted to cook the rice in a way I never had before. So I set to work. Going through my pantry, the first thing that caught my eye was a bag of golden raisins. I decided to build the rice dish around this. Since the chicken that the rice would accompany was spicy, I decided to make the rice dish subtly sweet for the sake of balance. And I came up with a rice dish my whole family enjoyed. Needless to say, there was no leftovers :-) The recipe follows:
SERVING SIZE: Feeds 6-8 people.
-Medium sized pot.
-Oven-safe deep dish.
-1 cup basmati rice (washed several times until the water runs clear, and soaked for 10minutes before you begin to cook).
-2 tablespoon cooking oil (I use Canola).
-1/2 of a star anise (a star-shaped cooking spice used in Chinese cuisine. Readily found in the international section of the grocery store. See picture below).
-4 inch cinnamon bark.
-2 whole cloves.
-2 pods of green cardamom (can be found online or at any Indian grocery store).
-1/4 cup golden raisins.
-1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher).
-4 tablespoons brown sugar.
-1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring.
-2 1/2 cups hot water (to cook the rice).
-In the saucepan on medium heat, add the oil and whole spices. Stir the spices in the pot occasionally (The objective is to infuse the oil with the flavors of the spices).
-Once the spices start to splutter in the oil, it is time to remove all of them except the cinnamon bark.
-Now add the brown sugar and salt. Stir.
-Drain the rice and add it to the pot. Add the raisins as well. Gently stir and coat the rice/raisins with the oil/sugar mixture.Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Make sure to stir gently so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
-Now add the hot water.
-Add the food coloring and gently stir.
-Reduce heat slightly, cover the pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
-Check back after 15 minutes to see if the rice is still hard. If it is, add 1/4 cup hot water to the pot and cover again.
***AT THIS POINT, PRE-HEAT YOUR OVEN TO 250 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT ***
-Cook until here is very little water left in the pot and the rice is done.
-Gently transfer your cooked rice to the oven-safe dish and insert into the oven on the middle rack. Allow the rice to "dry" uncovered for 8 minutes.
-Your rice is now ready to serve. Remember to pull out the cinnamon bark prior to serving your rice. It's purpose is to add aroma to your rice. Your rice should be fluffy, aromatic and subtly sweet. Enjoy!