Turmeric Rice

The first time I went to Mumbai, I had lunch with my very good friend Liloo who took us to a restaurant called Thackers and introduced us to our truly first and authentic Vegetarian Thali. Oh my God ! I said, this is what Indian food is supposed to taste like !!! I was blown away by the explosion of flavours and the complexity and variety of dishes, each one more delicious than the other… all of them Vegetarian. The tastes had nothing to do with the Indian food I knew from North America and Europe which is so much milder in terms of flavours. The use of vegetables in India is a great lesson to us all, as it is so diverse and interesting. I could easily become vegetarian in India as the variety of vegetables and the cooking methods vary so much, depending on the region. Limitless ! It is also rather rich in carbohydrates with the breads, chapatis, rotis and various lentils and feel I would have to live at the Gym in order to try everything. Thali is like a complete 3-course meal for foodies. If you’re vegetarian, you will have many options for thalis like Punjabi Thali, Gujarati Thali, Maharashtra Thali, and many others. Each variety has its own identity of state and culture in its plate. For example, In Punjabi Thali, the dish will have chick peas, poori breads/ chapati, while a Maharashtrian Thali will have potato vegetable, lady finger or okra, dal or lentils, chapatis/rotis. You can enjoy such fantastic Thali meals in Mumbai, aside from the fantastic street food… I simply cannot wait to go back with the knowledge I have now, to indulge in simple yet, so interesting dishes…. and bring back a suitcase full of spices. Oh I love India ! Try this simple, yet very perfumed Turmeric Rice, inspired by Madhur Jaffrey, the Julia Child of Indian Cuisine in North America.

450 Ml. Basmati Rice – The equivalent of 2 cups of rice
675 Ml.Water – The equivalent of 3 cups of rice
3 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
5 Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
5 Cardamom Pods
1 3cm. Cinnamon stick
6 Curry leaves (I use fresh leaves which I keep in the freezer)
2 Garlic Cloves peeled and finely chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons finely chopped scallions – (1 large one)
1/2 Cup of dried fruits, such as raisins, cranberries (optional)

Put the rice in a bol and wash well in several changes of water. Drain the rice and leave in the strainer over a bowl.
Put the oil in a heavy saucepan and set over medium high heat. When hot, put in the cloves, bay leaf, cardamom pods, curry leaves and cinnamon.
Stir once once or twice and add the garlic and saute for a minute. As soon as the garlic turns medium brown, add the rice, turmeric and salt.
Stir gently for a minute.
Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. At this stage, you can add the dried fruits and put the lid on.
Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 10 minutes.
Using a fork, lightly move the rice grains around and mix the dried fruits. The short cooking time will give you a rather firm rice grain, which we like.
Sprinkle the scallions or fresh coriander and serve steaming hot !

Tip du jour :
I often double the recipe and have a cold Basmati Rice salad the following day. Simply add vegetables of your choice; shredded carrots, chopped scallions, red capsicum, cucumbers, red onion finely chopped and just a little french mustard vinaigrette. Serve with a few lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes and you have yourself a lovely and healthy lunch.

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