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SAFFRON BASMATI RICE (PULAO)

As featured in our Comfort Food Menu

This recipe may seem a bit involved due to its ingredients list, but it's actually a super simple way to elevate a perfect plate of basmati rice. If you don't have all of the spices called for - it's ok! Some ingredients can be substituted for something you have more readily available in your own spice cabinet, or you can simply omit whatever you don't have. As long as you have the saffron and the turmeric, this beautifully vibrant preparation will be pleasing to the eyes and the mouth.

Adapted from Rasika by Vikram Sunderam.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 C basmati rice

2 TBSP canola oil

1 tsp black cumin (nigella) seeds (or substitute with regular cumin seeds)

4 green cardamon pods

4 whole cloves

2-inch cinnamon stick

2 large dried Indian bay leaves

3 C water

1 TBSP unsalted butter

1 ½ tsp salt

½ saffron threads

½ ground turmeric

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a very large bowl, combine the rice with enough cool water to completely cover. Tip the bowl and drain as much water as you can. Repeat this three to five times, until the water runs clear. Cover the rice again with cool water and let it soak for 30 minutes. Drain after 30 minutes.
  3. In a heavy oven-safe pot, or a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves (or whatever combination of these ingredients you have!) and let them crackle in the oil for 30 seconds. Add the 2 cups of water, the butter, salt, saffron, and turmeric and bring to a boil. 
  4. Stir the drained rice into the pot and return to a boil. Stir again, cover the pot, and cook on the stovetop for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until the water is mostly absorbed (the rice will be thick and soupy at this point). 
  5. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake, covered, for about 10 more minutes, or until all the remaining liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Remove the pot from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Then fluff the rice and serve. 

Pair it with:

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