Cooking Up Some Brown Basmati Rice

Do you know that, traditionally, Indians don’t eat much brown basmati rice? As it turns out, Indians have traditionally preferred the more neutral taste of white basmati rice. For thousands of years, in fact, Indians have been removing the outer brown husk and polishing brown basmati rice into white rice. As each layer is removed, so is most of the nutritional value and fiber, which is too bad – but, of course, the rice but comes light, flakier, and, to many people, much more delicious and easy to eat.

Some people say that they find brown rice hard to digest, but I eat it at least two or three times a week and don’t notice any digestion issues. In fact, I tend to enjoy the flavour more than white basmati rice; it feels a bit more natural and hearty to me.

For extra flavor, I often sauté onions and add them to the rice. On other occasions, especially when I’m not using onions, I will often add oil or butter to the rice to give it some more flavour.

One of the nice characteristics of brown basmati rice is that you can freeze it for up to a month and the rice will not lose its texture once you thaw and reheat it. All you need to do is add a bit of water to cover the bottom of the pot to essentially bring it back to life. This differs dramatically from white rice, which can typically not be frozen and then resurrected without losing the texture and flavour of the original rice.

Here’s my recipe for brown basmati rice that I have used for many years. I hope you will love it!

I like to start by placing rice in a medium bowl and washing it well under cold water, and then letting it drain. For this recipe, I suggest you use 2 cups of brown basmati rice. One rule I like to follow is to keep washing the rice until the water that drains out is completely clear, or at least very close to clear. You might be surprised to see that it takes quite some time before the rice is clean enough to achieve this!

Once I have completely washed the rice and drained it, I set it aside for a moment. Then, in a large pot, melt some butter on medium heat for approximately one minute. I would suggest using 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter. Alternatively, you could also some cooking oil in the same proportions.

Once the butter is melted, I add some cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle in the pot for approximately 15 seconds. I would suggest using about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds. Once that is done, I add onion and sauté until the onion is browned. This usually takes about 10 minutes. I would suggest using one large onion, and chopping it finely.

The more finely the onion is chopped, the nicer it will brown and the better the flavour of your dish will be. Also, the less you sauté your onions, the sweeter they will taste. On the other hand, the more you sauté your onions, the more they will have a toasty, roasted flavor.

Once the onions have been sautéed, add water, or stock, and salt to your pot. I suggest that you use 4 cups of water or stock. The stocking can be meat stock or vegetable stock. I also suggest you use approximately 1 teaspoon of salt to enhance the flavor.

Once you have done that, add in the rice. Using your hands, scrape rice grains from the bowl into the pot – you will probably find that the little buggers like to stick to the wall of the bowl! Stir well, Increase the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Once you achieve a boil, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

The cooking time for the rice will vary from stove the stove, so remove the lid and check for water. If there is no extra water in the pot, carefully taste the rice to see if it’s cooked through. If it’s not, put the lid back on, turn off the heat and allow the rice to cook for another 15 minutes.

If it happens to be that all of the water has been absorbed into the rice but it still is not soft enough for you, you can add half a cup more water and continue simmering for 10 minutes.

If there is still extra water in the pot after 45 minutes, cook the rice, covered, for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on the pot, and allow the rice to sit for five minutes before serving. If you like your rice warmer, serve it immediately once you have turned off the heat.

This recipe serves about 6 to 8 as a side dish. It is very versatile and can be served with practically any other dish you can conjure up!

I hope you enjoy it!

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