Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Aromatic Yellow Rice

Aromatic Indian Yellow Rice with Cilantro Garnish in White Ramekin, Overhead View with Black Background

Turmeric, Cinnamon, and Cloves Spice Up this Vegan Indian Specialty

Indians have developed a dazzling array of rice dishes.  Like today’s recipe:  Aromatic Yellow Rice.  Simple to prepare, yet appealing to both eye and palate. It owes its vibrant color to turmeric, its tantalizing spicy aroma to cinnamon and cloves. 

Aromatic Yellow Rice naturally goes well with most Indian meals, but it’s equally at home with roast or grilled chicken, meat, or fish.  The flavor is not particularly assertive, but it doesn’t get lost on the plate. 

Easy, colorful, tasty — you’ll find a lot to like in this dish.



Aromatic Indian Yellow Rice in White Ramekin with Napkin and Fork

Recipe:  Aromatic Yellow Rice

This dish is tasty enough to stand alone, but it shines when used to sop up the runny goodness of a curry or dal.  Like the Sweet Potatoes in Tomato Curry that we did last year, or the Pink Dal with Swiss Chard that we did earlier this week.

Although you can probably use any kind of rice to make this dish, I prefer to make it with a long-grain variety, such as ordinary white, or parboiled or “converted” rice. You could also use Basmati, which is a favorite in India, has a wonderful fragrance, and is now carried in most supermarkets.

BTW, I find that cooking instructions on rice packages usually give reliable cooking times, but sometimes specify a little too much water.  There’s more on this in the Notes.

This recipe is adapted from my favorite Indian cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking (the 1982 version written to accompany a BBC TV program; now out of print, alas).

Preparation time for this dish?  About 5 minutes to bring the water to a boil, then 20 to 25 minutes to cook the rice, and about 10 minutes resting time.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup long-grained rice, unwashed (see Notes)
  • ~1 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 or 4 whole cloves
Procedure
  1. Put 2 cups of water in a 3-quart pot with a heavy bottom and tight-fitting lid.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, measure out the rice and spices.
  3. When the water boils, add the rice and spices.  Stir once, cover, and reduce heat to very low.  Set timer for 20 minutes (23 minutes if using parboiled rice).  Do not lift cover while cooking!
    When the timer goes off, lift cover, and with a fork scoot some rice from the center to see if any water remains at the bottom of the pot.  If there’s water, cook an additional minute or two.
  4. When all water has evaporated, let rice sit for 10 minutes, tightly covered.  Before serving, remove the whole cloves and cinnamon stick.
Aromatic Indian Yellow Rice with Cloves Garnish on Black Acrylic

Notes
  • Rice comes in long, medium, and short grains, and is either brown (unmilled) or white (milled).  As noted above, I prefer to use white rice for this recipe, and I specify the long-grain variety — when cooked, medium- and short-grained rice tends to be sticky (gummy).
  • Even so, some people have problems with gummy rice when they cook the long-grained variety.  I find that if you cook it in a heavy pot on low, and don’t lift the lid while it’s cooking, the rice turns out perfectly — properly cooked, and without rice grains sticking together.
  • But you many want to try parboiled rice (Uncle Ben’s “converted” rice is parboiled).  Parboiling was developed over 2,000 years ago in southern India.  It actually slightly improves the nutritional value of milled rice (although it’s not as nutritious as brown rice).  
  • The main advantage, for us, is that it’s much harder to mess up cooking parboiled rice (as compared to ordinary long-grained white rice).  In fact, I’ve never cooked a batch where the grains were not plump and separate.  It doesn’t get gummy even when you overcook it (although it does take a bit longer to cook than ordinary long-grained rice).  Some people think the taste isn’t as good as ordinary white rice (I haven’t noticed this), but this dish has plenty of flavor, so that isn’t an issue.
  • In many countries, people wash rice before cooking it.  The rice we buy in our markets is usually pretty clean right out of the bag, but wash if you wish.  If you wash your rice and soak it (some recipes call for that), you’ll need less water when you cook it, and may be able to decrease cooking time a bit.
  • BTW, if you have a bit of water left in the pot after you cook the rice, but don’t want to cook it more to evaporate the water because the rice is already perfectly cooked, no big problem.  Just serve the rice (leaving that little bit of water in the pot) and remember the next time you cook that brand of rice to use a bit less water. 
  • I haven’t used an electric rice cooker, but I understand they’re foolproof.  So if you cook rice a lot, you may want to consider investing in one of these.
Aromatic Indian Yellow Rice with Dal on Plate, with Napkin and Fork

More Indian Dishes Coming Next Week

We’re in our first week of Indian Fortnight here on Kitchen Riffs.  This Aromatic Yellow Rice is terrific served alongside the Pink Dal with Swiss Chard that we did a few days ago. But next week we’ll be discussing even more tasty Indian dishes.

Next up: We’ll curry some zucchini and yellow squash in a tomato sauce. Then we’ll make Tandoori Chicken. We’ll end up the week with one of the best potato dishes I know — potatoes curried with garlic and ginger.

Hungry yet? If you’re not now, you will be by the end of next week!

You may also be interested in reading about:
Pink Dal with Swiss Chard
Sweet Potatoes in Curry Sauce
Red-Braised Beans and Sweet Potatoes
White Bean and Potato Soup
Split Pea Soup with Greens
Vegan Mapo Tofu
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans Easy Lentil Soup
Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Green Soup

66 comments:

  1. I don't think I could make rice anymore without my rice cooker, lol. I have to say though, I can't believe how beautiful and separated your rice is, I tried shooting rice once, but it looked awful. I haven't used the par-boiled, will have to be on the lookout.
    -Gina-

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    1. Hi Gina, everyone who has a rice cooker tells me the same thing! And I love kitchen gadgets, so of course I'm tempted. But the parboiled, at least in my experience, is hard to mess up. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. Yummy! The rice has a beautiful sunny yellow color and I can only imagine the aroma and flavor. Simple, easy and wonderful!

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    1. Hi Asmita, isn't it pretty? And the flavor, though on the subtle side, is really nice. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. You should have been a full-time photographer than a food blogger. The grains look amazing.

    You seem to be enjoying Indian cuisine, 'eh. :)

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    1. Hi Leemz, Indian food is one of the best! ;-) Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  4. Yes, John, I am hungry even though I just had my lunch (and breakfast at the same time). Your rice looks very appetizing. When I opened this post my first thought was Saffron rice. Turmeric gives a very similar to saffron color. Lovely meal, my teenager would eat it all, and even I would have some. I started to appreciate rice some years ago when I was working with Korean, Vietnamese and Indian people in the office. They introduced me to real home cooking of rice and it's versatility. On your note, they always pre-soaked the rice for several hours, changing water several times. I asked them why do they do it, and at different times they all said about the same thing: if you don't want sticky rice, wash and soak it, it will be fluffy. And it was. I wish I could learned from them more regional foods...
    Thank you John, for the inspiring post! Heading over to check what I missed on your blog last week... :)

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    1. Hi Marina, always happy to make you hungry! ;-) I've presoaked rice and it does make it easier to cook. You can also cook it like pasta - in a big vat of boiling water! That is when you're making plain rice - when you're flavoring it, this method works pretty well. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. Oh, yum! I love the simplicity of your posts; it's always balanced out so well by thoughtful and detailed notes that would really help a lost first-timer out a bundle, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi wallflourgirl, thanks for the kind words, and for the comment!

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  6. I am really wanting a rice cooker these days. I love perfectly cooked rice and usually do brown rice and more hearty rices which I find can be a bit trickier. Love the flavors here!

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    1. Hi everydaymaven, you're right about brown rice, in particular, being easier to cook in the rice cooker. At least that's what I've read, and I believe it. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Yellow rice is one of our family staples my friend, I would love to try your recipe, it looks fantastic :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi CCU, I can imagine it is! Show your recipe to your mum - she'll probably scoff and tell you a dozen better ways to make it! Thanks for your comment.

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  8. I have never made yellow rice with cloves before, like the idea of adding them though.
    PS I can not live with out our rice cooker, it has its spot on our bench top.

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    1. Hi Lizzie, the cloves (and cinnamon) add both a subtle flavor, but noticeable aroma. Good stuff. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. This rice looks amazing. I really like the seasoning that you have in this dish.

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    1. Hi Words of Deliciousness, it really has a nice flavor. And the color is so nice! A fun dish. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. The rice really does look amazing. The color is fantastic. I've been wanting to incorporate more turmeric in my diet for it's anti inflammatory benefits. This looks like a terrific way to start. I might try it with brown rice. It won't be as pretty, but I'll bet it tastes great!

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    1. Hi motherrimmy, isn't it pretty? You make a good point about the health benefits of turmeric. It also aids the digestion, or so I've read. The brown rice would be much healthier, of course, although as you point out the color would be a bit less. Thanks for the comment.

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  11. Only 3 spices - what an easy and tasty rice! The color is beautiful and knowing that it's due to the turmeric, I know that the taste is delicious! Rice can be pretty tricky. I buy mine from the bulk aisle of the healthfood store so I always wash it. Depending on the type of rice will depend on the length of time it cooks. I love my rice pot (which is really just a sauce pan) with a glass lid because it allows me to keep an easy eye on it. Lovely pictures of this simple rice dish!

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    1. Hi MJ, it really is an easy dish. I should think more about washing my rice - much of the world does it. And although the packaged stuff is quite clean, there really are other benefits to washing it (better texture, faster cooking, etc.) As I was writing this post I was thinking I really need to write a "rice basics" post at some point - but it'll be a while! Thanks for your comment.

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  12. Mmm, tumeric, cinnamon and cloves. I can smell that lovely trifecta of fragrances from over here. Warms the soul -- and the stomach.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, great trifecta, isn't it? And that combo definitely has a somewhat warming property! Good stuff, though. Thanks for your comment.

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  13. These rice are so ismple to prepare... Perfect for those busy nights!
    I am so excited about all those new recipes you will be posting soon :D

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    1. Hi Cakewhiz, the simplicity of this recipe is one of its great attractions! Easy and tasty always appeals to me. I hope you enjoy the upcoming recipes! Thanks for your comment.

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  14. I always love the color of turmeric - it's amazing how this spice color ingredients and cheer us up with gorgeous yellow color! Looks delicious, and perfect side dish!

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    1. Hi Nami, isn't it pretty? It's pretty in the jar, but when used with food it takes on a whole new hue. Thanks for the comment.

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  15. I'm really curious how does it smell, I'll make it just to check it :)

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    1. Hi Marta, wonderful aroma! You'll definitely have to make it to find out! Thanks for the comment.

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  16. Woah! Rice never looked so pretty! Heh. Stunning pictures! We make yellow rice all the time. :)

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    1. Hi Baker Street, yellow rice is so gorgeous - such a simple dish, yet so pretty. Thanks for the kind words and the comment.

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  17. I love indian food! I'm so happy that you're doing a series on it. Yellow rice is crucial (in my opinion). You need something to soak up all of those delicious sauces!

    ps. Thanks for the sweet comment on yesterday's post. I was feeling kind of mopey and you perked me up :-)

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    1. Hi Kristy, I like Indian food - a lot - too! I can't believe it took me so long to get to this dish - I've had it in my plans (such as they are - my planning for the blog is very casual) for well over a year, just never got to it. Thanks for being kind, and for the comment.

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  18. Replies
    1. Hi Jay, it really is awesome. Thanks for your comment.

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  19. This looks great, and recipes don't come any easier than that. I'm looking forward to the rest of your Indian recipes - especially those potatoes!

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    1. Hi Beth, this is an easy recipe, isn't it? My favorite kind! The potato dish is killer. Great with Indian food, of course, but also good with a roast. Kinda like this rice dish. Thanks for your comment.

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  20. Oh yes, I am hungry now.When I taught English to Koreans, they seemed to always have rice ready to eat straight from a rice cooker. For them it was a bit like us putting the kettle on to boil. I always put heaps of water and boil the rice with the lid half on. It is then drained and works every time. I know my husband uses the absorption method and swears by it. Each to their own, I say.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, one of the interesting things about rice is both how many ways there are to cook it, and what different kinds of dishes different cultures make. I guess that's true of food in general. Thanks for the comment.

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  21. I totally agree, Indian food is so full of flavour, especially their rices! They are so good with spices. I love this yellow rice recipe, you're making me so hungry! I can do with a big bowl of this with a nice curry. :)

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    1. Hi Jenny, Indian is one of my favs. This is a simple dish, but has quite nice flavor - and is perfect with curry! Thanks for your comment.

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  22. Scrumptious! Great flavors and color.

    I love this cereal, especially basmati rice and jasmine rice.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, I just love this color - so vibrant. Jasmine rice is another terrific rice (basmati too, of course). So many rices, so little time! Thanks for the comment.

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  23. I love the look of your rice. The grains are so beautifully individual. This is a great side dish. xx

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    1. Hi Hotly Spiced, rice has such a nice shape it's just fun to look at. Simple dish, simple photos! Thanks for the comment.

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  24. I have never worked with turmeric, but hear so many lovely things about the spice! I love the simplicity of the recipe, but gorgeous flavors! Thank you for sharing about rice, I honestly did not know the info you shared:-) Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, turmeric has nice color and is a supposedly a great aid to the digestive process (and also offers other heath benefits). Just a nice ingredient! Thanks for the comment.

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  25. I LOVE yellow rice. Growing up in Indonesia, I was used to enjoying yellow rice during special events such as traditional Javanese weddings. Gorgeous color and flavors too. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Yudith, isn't it a nice dish? Good flavor, and just beautiful. Interesting to know this is often seen at Javanese weddings! Thanks for the comment.

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  26. Oh my gosh, I want to just run into the kitchen and make this immediately. Unfortunately running anywhere is against doc's orders. Great recipe. Missed visiting you while I was away. Looks like I have lots of yummy things to catch up on.

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    1. Hi Kim, it's a fun dish. Hope you're feeling better - sounds like your trip was really great until right at the end when it turned scary. Get well. And thanks for the comment.

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  27. this aromatic yellow rice has been my favorite but i have not been able to get it right. Your detailed recipe is so helpful and I will make this today since I have all the ingredients readily available. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Yi, this recipe works really well. Lots of flavor, and just beautiful color. It's one of my favorite ways to make rice. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. A simple recipe with only three spices but the color is beautiful and the aroma must be lovely.

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    1. Hi Karen, isn't this a nice recipe? Easy, quick, gorgeous, flavorful! Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Hi Raymund, it's super with curries - and looks so nice with them! Thanks for your comment.

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  30. I love the flavor of turmeric and the color that it lends to dishes. I don't make enough Indian dishes and would love to but my husband isn't a fan of curry or turmeric so it eliminates so many of them. I guess I just have to make those when I'm inviting friends over for lunch.

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    1. Hi Vicki, turmeric is great stuff - sorry you can't use it when you cook for your family. A lot of Indian dishes use exactly the same spices as Mexican (cumin, coriander, chilies, garlic), so if your husband likes Mexican, maybe you could just play around with the seasoning a bit (obviously leave out turmeric, which is in many Indian dishes but no Mexican ones that I'm aware of). Thanks for your comment.

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  31. I love turmeric rice. It s so good with curries. Since I grew up with rice and eat it almost everyday, I don't even look at the packaging instructions but some recipes do specify a little too much water. I prefer my rice fluffy and not mushy.

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    1. Hi Biren, isn't it a great dish? Tasty, and so pretty. It's a bit odd that some instructions on rice packages aren't accurate regarding the water. But no big deal to adapt, once you learn what you really need. Thanks for the comment.

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  32. Your opening photo of the rice did more to "sell" the dish than any words ever could. It looks perfectly prepared and your spices mean it is very flavorful. I can't wait to try this but first I'll wait to see what other Indian dishes you'll be sharing with us. This will be a great series.

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    1. Hi Chicago John, this rice really has nice, subtle flavor. And I'm having a lot of fun with the Indian dishes I'm preparing! So many choices, so little time. ;-) Thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

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  33. I love trying out different spicy rice recipes. They are a wonderful addition to any meal and the hints of spices really take a normal rice dish to a whole new level

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    1. Hi Sawsan, I love spicy dishes, and I agree they add so much interest to a meal. Great stuff! Thanks for your comment.

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