Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Good Rice

You will need a pan that is OK to use both on the stove and in the oven or else you'll need to transfer the rice from a regular pan into a casserole dish.

I was happy to stumble upon this recipe in Martha Stewart Living several years back, as this is the closest I've come to replicating the really good rice at the Afghan restaurant near where I used to live. I never realized how lucky I was to live within walking distance of so many wonderful restaurants (especially if you like long walks). The Afghan restaurant was in the same plaza as the bad Thai restaurant, the bad coffee shop, and a fancy grocery store — over behind the upscale mall. I used to live in such a walkable neighborhood with so many excellent destinations.

I only ate at the Afghan place once. I don't remember what my entree was, but I was amazed by the delicious rice.

Martha got this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey. The version I'm going to share differs from the version published in the magazine; this is how it was done on Martha's TV show. Also, I omit a soaking step and have simplified the seasonings.

2 cups uncooked basmati rice
3 Tbs vegetable oil (I probably use less)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 2/3 cups water

Preheat oven to 325F.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion has lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice. Stir gently until all the grains have been coated with oil and start to turn opaque, about 3 minutes.

Pour in the water, add the salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover and tranfer to oven for 25 minutes.