Rice. Such an essential food around the world, particularly in the countries from the Middle East to India, around to Indonesia, then up through South East Asia, through China, Korea and Japan. Then if you pop through many island countries and parts of Africa, more rice dishes can be found. So many delicious ways with rice.
This is a pilaf flavoured only with saffron and cardamom. Subtle and delicious, with the sweetness of sauteed onions.
Saffron and Cardamom Pilaf
250g basmati rice
1 onion, halved, thinly sliced
3 green cardamom pods, split
1 Indian bay leaf (teja pata)
8 saffron threads, soaked in 1 Tblspn warm milk
Rinse the rice well, drain, then add water to cover and soak for 10 – 30 minutes. Drain well and leave to dry for 30 mins (if possible).
Heat half of ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent and soft. Remove half of the onion and set aside. Continue to cook the remaining onion for another 5 or more minutes until dark golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Return the first, partially cooked onions to the pan with the rest of the ghee, the cardamom, Indian bay leaf and rice and stir for 1 – 2 minutes or until the rice is well coated in ghee.
Add the saffron mixture and 475 ml water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and cook over low-medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. WITHOUT REMOVING THE LID, turnoff the heat and allow the rice to stand for 10 minutes. Gently mix through a little salt if needed. Serve rice topped with reserved onions.