Basmati is the Rolls-Royce of rices, a long, slender grain with an intensely aromatic taste that is buttery, nutty, milky, and sweet. And that’s before you add any flavorings! Grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, basmati owes its extraordinary flavor to several years’ aging in silos. Unlike most rices, it doubles in length, not width, when cooked.
Basmati rice is traditionally associated with India, but it’s eaten almost on a daily basis as far west as the Caucasus Mountains and as far east as Bangladesh. The traditional method for cooking basmati involves multiple washings, soakings, and steaming. This is the Indian-style recipe you’ll find on the facing page. But because basmati rice plays such an important role in the world of barbecue, I offer several recipes, ranging from quick-cook basmati rice, ideal for the weekend cook, to an elaborate Persian rice with cranberries.
Note that basmati rice is sold at most gourmet shops and many supermarkets. If you like it as much as I do, you’ll probably want to buy it in bulk at an Indian, Pakistani, or Near or Middle Eastern markets.
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