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.
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.
- 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
- Put 2 cups of water in a 3-quart pot with a heavy bottom and tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, measure out the rice and spices.
- 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.
- When all water has evaporated, let rice sit for 10 minutes, tightly covered. Before serving, remove the whole cloves and cinnamon stick.
- 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.
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