Inspired by a recipe from Moghul Microwave: Cooking Indian Food the Modern Way by Julie Sahni, in hot weather this rice begs to be served at room temperature. It is a foil for the rest of the menu, excellent with the cantaloupe, the raita, and the ribs.
3 cups basmati or long-grain rice
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
3 whole cloves
1 medium to large onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 2-inch ginger root, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon saffron threads soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
6 cups water
2 boiled medium-sized red-skin potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cups coarsely chopped unshelled sugar snap peas
3 whole scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, torn
1. Wash rice in a strainer. Soak in cold water to cover 30 minutes.
2. In a 6-quart pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the spices until cumin darkens. Stir in onion, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Cook until it begins to color. Blend in the ginger, saffron, water, and well-drained rice. Bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat to medium; partially cover and cook 8 to 12 minutes. Taste rice. It should be slightly underdone. Add salt if needed. Cover rice and let stand another 5 minutes or until just tender (it will finish cooking as it cools). Uncover, add potatoes and peas, and turn out onto a platter to cool. Just before serving toss lightly with the scallions, mint, and coriander, tasting for seasoning.
From Lynne's Menu for Entertaining Inspired by Lee Bailey, July 2002
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