Rice 5 ways - pimp your curry accompaniment

October 19, 2017

Rice 5 ways - pimp your curry accompaniment

I read an article in the Guardian today with tips on how to cook the perfect rice. This mainly boiled down (see what I did there?) to rinsing, soaking and changing the cooking water, to me all fairly obvious for the preparation of  different grains but if you are unfamiliar with rice best practices then have a read. 

It got me to thinking about how most people only serve plain rice with a curry when for just a little extra effort you can make it a little bit special. I have the luxury of a rice machine which unless I do something spectacularly stupid (it's been known) gives perfect result every time. Knowing that most households do not have this luxury I have used on the hob recipes by the queen of curry herself, Madhur Jaffrey.  So here are 5 rice dishes to try out, starting with light and fluffy basmati all the way to mushroom pullao. 

Plain Basmati Rice

basmati rice

Plain basmati is of course a staple that will work well with most Indian or Sri Lankan dishes so let's start with this basic recipe. 

Serves 6 
Basmati rice measured to 450ml in a measuring jug 
3/4 tsp salt 
15g butter 

Pick over the rice for any grit, if necessary, and put it in a bowl. Wash it in several changes of water. Drain the rice and then pour 1.2 litres (2 pints) fresh water over the rice and let it soak for 30 minutes.

Drain the rice thoroughly. In a heavy-based pan put the rice, salt, butter and 600ml (1 pint) fresh water and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to very low and cook for 20 minutes.

Mix gently but quickly with a fork and replace the cover on the pan. Cook for a further 5–10 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Aromatic Yellow Rice

aromatic yellow rice

You can use either basmati or American long grain for this dish, whichever you prefer. 

Serves 6 
Long grain or basmati rice measured to 450ml in a measuring jug
1¼ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
3–4 cloves
2.5cm (1in) stick cinnamon
3 bay leaves
45g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Put the rice in a bowl and wash in several changes of water, then drain it. Pour 1.2 litres (2 pints) water over the rice and let it soak for 30 minutes.

Drain the rice. In a heavy-based pan, put the drained rice, 600ml (1 pint) water, the salt, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to very, very low and cook for 25 minutes.

Let the pan rest, covered and undisturbed, for 10 minutes. Then add the small pats of butter, mixing them in very gently with a fork. Remove the bay leaves before serving but leave the cinnamon stick and the cloves in the rice as a garnish, if you like.

 Spiced Basmati Rice

 spiced basmati rice

This is a fine and delicate basmati dish that can be served with any Indian food but also shines when served with a roast if you fancy something other than tats and carrots.

Serves 6
basmati rice measured to the 450ml level in a measuring jug
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
50g onion, finely chopped
½ fresh hot green chilli, finely chopped
½ teaspoon very finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
600ml chicken stock

Pick over the rice for any grit, if necessary, and put in a bowl. Wash the rice in several changes of water and drain. Then pour 1.2 litres water over the rice and let it soak for 30 minutes.

Leave the rice to drain in a sieve for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put the oil in a heavy-based pan and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and stir-fry until the pieces 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, reduce the heat slightly. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cover with a very tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to very, very low and cook for 25 minutes.

Rice and Peas 

rice and peas

I know a lot of people can have a love hate relationship with cumin but if, like me, you adore the spice then this dish is simply an amazing accompaniment that will work with just about any curry dish. Give it a try!

Serves 6
long-grain rice measured to the 450ml level in a measuring jug
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
75g onions, finely chopped
150–175g peas, either frozen and defrosted under warm running water, or fresh
1 teaspoon salt

Wash the rice in several changes of water and drain. Put the rice in a large bowl. Add 1.2 litres water and soak for 30 minutes. Then drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan set over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds and stir them about for 3 seconds. Add the onions and stir-fry until the pieces are flecked with brown spots. Add the peas, drained rice and salt. Stir and sauté gently for 3–4 minutes or until the peas and rice are coated with oil.

Add 600ml water and bring to a boil. Cover very tightly, reduce the heat to very, very low and cook for 25 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the pan sit, covered and undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Stir gently before serving.

Mushroom Pullao 
mushroom pullao
This is one of my favourite rice dishes as an accompaniment to a meat curry. If you can find wild mushrooms, particularly good with morel, then I would advocate their use. If you are unsure of how long the hallucinogenics will last and do not wish to take the risk then shop bought is absolutely fine but go for a stronger flavoured variety if they are available. 

Serves 6

long-grain rice measured to the 450ml level in a measuring jug
150g mushrooms
1 small onion
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon garam masala, plus extra to garnish
1 teaspoon salt


Wash the rice in several changes of water and drain. Put the rice in a bowl. Add 1.2 litres water and soak for 30 minutes.

Drain the rice well. Wipe the mushrooms with a dampened cloth or kitchen paper. Slice the mushrooms, from the caps down to the stems, into 3mm thick slices. Cut the onion into half, lengthways, and then crossways into very thin slices.

Put the oil in a heavy-based pan and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onion and garlic. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until the onion pieces begin to turn brown at the edges. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes.

Add the rice, ginger, garam masala and salt. Reduce the heat to medium–low and sauté the rice, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour in 600ml water and bring to the boil. Cover very tightly, reduce the heat to very, very low and cook for 25 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the pan sit, covered and undisturbed, for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of garam masala just before serving.

So there you have it, all rather simple I think and thus leaving you no excuses for badly cooked rice or a bland side dish when I pop round for dinner. All credit to Madhur Jaffrey for the recipes. 




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