I have a dirty little secret. When cooking rice on any given night, I don’t go through the ritualistic and lengthy process many Persian cooks engage in to get perfect rice. If you’ve ever experienced that wonderful tahdig, aka crust on the rice, you know how heavenly it can be. If you’ve ever attempted to cook Persian style rice in the classic way in order to achieve this sometimes-elusive crust, you know how drawn-out the process can feel. Not exactly the type of thing a cook can have on the table quickly on a busy night.
My “Everyday Basmati” is simple, quick, and eliminates several steps. Of course, you don’t get that crunchy tahdig/crust, but I look at it this way: tahdig can be an occasional treat in my life, not something to eat daily. That way, we appreciate it more.
This simple is still quite tasty and versatile, with every grain separate and ready to soak up any delicious juices of whatever you might top it with. One more secret: sometimes I just eat it plain.
Bria’s Everyday Basmati Rice
Yields: 3 cups of cooked rice
1 1/2 cups of Basmati rice
1 teaspoon of butter (or more to taste)
2 2/3 cups of water
2 cardamom pods (optional)
1 teaspoon of salt (optional)
1. Rinse rice in a mesh strainer to remove excess starch. Leave rice in the sieve, and allow it to drain for a moment over a sink or a large bowl. In the meantime, heat up a two to three quart pot over medium heat.
2. Place butter and cardamom pods, if using, in the pot. Allow butter to melt over a low flame/heat until butter begins to smell nutty. Add rice and salt and stir gently to coat each grain. When heated this way, the rice itself will start to give off a nutty aroma.
3. Pour water over rice and stir again to combine. Water should cover the rice by no more than an inch.
4. Put flame/heat on high, and cook until water is almost completely absorbed. The water can be absorbed in just a few minutes, so stay nearby and keep an eye on the pot. Do NOT stir. Little holes will start to appear in the rice, and if you pick up the pot and move it from side to side, you should see very little water moving around the bottom and sides of the pot.
5. Drop flame to very low setting, and cover pot with lid. Allow to cook for five minutes more, checking to see if rice is done. If it isn’t tender yet, allow to cook for a bit longer, testing occasionally.
6. Once the rice is done, add more salt or butter if you wish. If you wish, remove cardamom pods or use them as a garnish. Fluff with a fork and serve.