Peas and carrots—that humble yet dynamic duo—add just the right sweetness and color to this Indian-spiced rice. The pared-down ingredient list may tempt you to throw in aromatics and sexier veggies, but don’t bother. This easy dish tastes authentic, cooks in a flash, and can either go with a curry or dress up a simple meal with its fragrant, warm spices.
This recipephany came from the back of a bag of basmati rice, more proof that we get the best recipes right off the packages. Unfortunately, we didn’t note the brand, so we can’t give it credit.
Maybe it’s just as well we don’t remember the brand. The rice producer would probably be upset with us because we dared to make a major—perhaps even heretic—change to the instructions: we eliminated the soaking.
Basmati directions usually call for soaking and rinsing before cooking. We don’t know why basmati gets this special treatment, but it could be to remove the starch that causes these slender grains to stick together. We found, however, that soaking and rinsing often leads to waterlogged, overcooked rice.
To keep the delicate grains separate without getting mushy, we skip the soaking and use the pilaf cooking method. This means sautéing the rice until it is nicely coated in oil and slightly white before adding liquid. This helps keep the rice tender and adds flavor. Or at least we like to think it does.
We recently discovered that “pulao” and “pilaf” are variations on the same theme, and that some recipes call for soaking while others specify sautéing to keep the grains separate. So we’re hardly the first to make pulao using this alternate method. We suppose that’s the real recipephany here.
To get the full-on flavors, use whole spices, especially the cumin and cloves. They give the dish backbone. And they help that mild-mannered, unpretentious couple—peas and carrots—shine.
Basmati Rice with Peas and Carrots (Mixed Vegetable Pulao)
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small cinnamon stick (or ground cinnamon to taste)
- 6 whole cloves
- 4 cardamom pods (or some ground cardamom)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ cup frozen green peas
- ¼ cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- Heat oil in pan. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cumin seeds. Sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add peas and carrots and sauté for about 3 minutes.
- Add dry (not soaked) rice and sauté for about another minute, until grains turn slightly white.
- Add salt and 2 cups of water. Bring to a full boil. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low.
- Cook for about 10-15 minutes. When done, uncover and fluff with a fork.
Soaking Option: If you feel compelled to soak, follow your package directions. Then, instead of sautéing the rice, add it along with the 2 cups of water. Note that soaking may reduce cooking time.