Once upon a time, you could find cooking shows on television which showed the audience how to cook food. They were educational and informative. Today, we have cooking shows which are competitions that teach nearly nothing about food, but lots about how horrid people who profess to be chefs can be when pitted against each other. Sometimes there is screeching profanity thrown in. It’s probably easy to tell which kind of food show I prefer.
One of the cooking shows which educated me was Indian Cookery, presented by Madhur Jaffrey. It came along at a time when I was becoming interested in cooking and especially interested in eating Indian food. Apart from showing me the how-to on Indian cooking, Madhur showed me what the Indian spices looked like so I’d know what to buy when I decided to cook something from the companion book for the series. I remember trying out Raan masaledar (Whole leg of lamb in a spicy yogurt sauce) which included cumin seeds, cardamon pods and garam masala—new spices to me at the time—after seeing it being made on her television show.
Garam masala shows up again in this recipe from the same book. It’s a mixture of spices which usually includes black pepper, cumin, cardamon, cloves and cinnamon and can also include fennel, nutmeg, coriander seeds or tumeric too. The amounts of each spice included in the mix varies and each cook can have their own personal blend. My own personal blend is the one that I bought at House of Spice in Kensington Market.
I made this rice to serve with the Spiced Red Lentil Stew.
Measure the rice.
Rinse, soak and drain the rice.
Chop the green chilli pepper, onion and garlic.
Cook the onion in oil.
Add the garam masala.
The garlic and green chilli go in too.
Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil.
Add the chicken stock (or water if cooking vegan) and bring to a boil.
Twenty-five minutes later, you have spiced basmati rice.
From Indian Cookery by Madhur Jaffrey.
Spiced Basmati Rice
Basmati rice measured to the 15 fl. oz. level in a glass measuring jug
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 oz. onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 a fresh, hot green chilli, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. very finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. salt (or to taste depending on the stock)
1 pint chicken stock
Wash the rice in several changes of water. Drain. Pour 2 pints fresh water over the rice and let it sit for half an hour. Leave to drain in a sieve for 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry until the onion bits have browned lightly. Add the rice, green chilli, garlic, garam masala and salt. Stir gently for 3 – 4 minutes until all the grains are coated with oil. If the rice begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, turn the heat down slightly. Now pour in the stock and bring the rice to a boil. Cover with a very tight-fitting lid, turn the heat to very, very low and cook for 25 minutes.
If you prefer, you could put the pan in a preheated oven (325°F) for 25 minutes.