Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Almonds
As promised, here’s the basmati rice pilaf that was pictured with the Chicken Kebabs a few weeks ago. Bright yellow, studded with dried fruit and almonds, and scented with cumin, cinnamon and turmeric — it will remind you of someplace exotic you’d like to travel far far away.
Basmati is a type of rice grown in the Himalayas and Pakistan. It’s incredibly fragrant with a light nutty flavor. “Bas” in Hindi language actually means “aroma” and “mati” means “full of,” hence the word Basmati — or “full of aroma.” The grains are long, slender and fluffy compared to standard white rice.
It’s always a good idea to rinse basmati rice, otherwise it will be gummy and stick together. It only takes a minute or two — all you have to do is place the rice in a bowl with water, and then swish it around to release any excess starch. Rinse the rice in several changes of water until the water runs almost clear.
Let the rice drain in a fine mesh strainer, then move on to the pilaf by melting the butter in a medium pot.
Add the onions and cook over gentle heat until soft and translucent.
Stir in the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant.
Next, toss in the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.
Add the water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer over low heat until the rice is cooked, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the dried fruit over top, then cover loosely and let sit for about 10 minutes. (As you can see, I used a combination of currants and chopped apricots but feel free to use whatever you like.)
Finally, toss in the almonds and fluff the pilaf with a fork.
Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted and modified from Cooks Illustrated.
Basmati Pilaf with Dried Fruits and Almonds
- 1-1/2 cups basmati rice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions, from one small onion
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-1/4 cups water
- 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as currants, raisins or finely chopped dried apricots
- 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted until golden
- Place rice in medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Using your hands, gently swish grains to release any excess starch. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl. Repeat four to five times, until water runs almost clear. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice. Place strainer over bowl and set aside.
- Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic to sautéed onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add rice to pot, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper to rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, 15-18 minutes. Off heat, remove lid, and sprinkle dried fruit over rice (do not mix in). Place lid loosely over pot and let stand 10 minutes. Toss in toasted almonds, fluff rice with a fork, then serve.