As a Persian, Basmati rice is a staple in our diet. We have rice with EVERY, SINGLE meal! Sometimes we have plain rice served on the side of our stews or kabobs, other times rice is the main course and we create entire meals around it. We can dress it up with beans, vegetables or ground meat. There are unlimited choices in Persian cuisine when it comes to rice.
In Persian cuisine, plain basmati rice is made in 2 different ways: polow (regular rice) and kateh (simple rice). Polow basically means cooked rice and is considered the traditional “Persian way” of cooking rice where the rice is soaked and pre-boiled. It creates rice that is longer and leaner in shape. This is also the method that enables you to create delicious crispiness at the bottom of the pot called tahdig. (I will have to share that recipe with you another time!). Kateh is the easier and simpler method of cooking rice and it is the type that I am sharing with you today.
This recipe is probably one of the first ones that I ever learned to make. It is made with roughly 1 part rice to 2 parts water. The method is simple. You cook the rice until the water is fully absorbed. Then you turn the heat on low and continue to cook for 30-40 minutes. Voila! You have a pot of rice 🙂 In Persian rice, we also garnish the top of the rice with some saffron infused rice. To do this, simply grind a pinch of saffron using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one of those, just grind the spice in a small bowl using the back of a small spoon. Next, add a 1 tsp. of hot water and mix evenly. Hot water will make the saffron dissolve better and more quickly. Take 1/2 cup of the cooked rice and add it in. Mix well until rice is fully combined and becomes a beautiful yellow colour.
Coconut-Flavoured Basmati Rice
For a hint of coconut flavour, use coconut oil in the rice instead of vegetable oil and skip the saffron-infused garnish on top. This gives it the perfect touch when serving with a Thai curry (see Thai coconut red curry with prawns or Thai yam and sweet potato yellow curry).
For a more intense coconut flavour, try my easy coconut rice using basmati.
Basmati rice with saffron is an essential side in Middle Eastern diets. Make it in 15 minutes with this easy-to-follow recipe.
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 4 cups water
- 1–2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
- salt to taste
- pinch of saffron (optional)
- 1 teaspoon hot water
- Pour the rice into a medium-sized pot.
- Fill up the pot halfway and rinse the water. Discard the water.
- Repeat this step 2-3 times to rinse the rice unit the water becomes clear. Again, discard the water.
- Add the 4 cups of water, vegetable oil and salt.
- Bring the pot to a boil over high heat.
- Allow the water to continue to boil until it has been absorbed by the rice and you no longer see any water over top of the rice (roughly 5 minutes).
- Turn the heat down to low and cover the rice.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes.
- Create a saffron-infused garnish: Grind a pinch of saffron using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one of those, just grind it in a small bowl using the back of a small spoon. Next, add a 1 tsp. of hot water and mix evenly. Take 1/2 cup of the cooked rice and add it in. Mix well until rice is fully combined and becomes a beautiful yellow colour.
Stumped on what to complement your rice with? Here are some ideas:
- Thai Coconut Red Curry with Prawns
- Indian Butter Chicken
- Lentil Stew with Carrots and Potatoes
- Chicken Thighs with Green Beans and Potatoes in Tomato Sauce
- Thai Yam and Sweet Potato Yellow Curry
- Persian Style Lamb Chops (Lamb Shashlik)