An online food group I belong to is celebrating “rice month.” The idea is to highlight a recipe featuring, well rice. Someone suggested that nearly every culture uses rice so everyone ought to be able to find something to fit the theme. Unfortunately, I come from a long line of noodle and dumpling people. So, at first I was stumped. What could I possibly make for this challenge? Then I had an idea. I could borrow a “sister” culture! Eastern European Jewish people focus heavily on noodles, but the Sephardim (from Asia, India, the Middle East, etc.) have plenty of rice dishes. So, I looked through my cookbooks and found garlic ginger turmeric rice.
It’s a Bene Israel recipe, meaning that it was created by the Jewish population in India. You might almost call it a pulao. I’ve adapted this recipe from The Book of Jewish Food. Her version served six. Mine is about three servings (because extra rice is always good; more on that later).
This particular rice dish is packed with garlic, ginger, green cardamon pods, and a pinch of turmeric for that beautiful yellow color. It’s tasty (and it fights germs too, which made it even more appealing since I’m still fighting the creeping crud!). Don’t be put off by all the garlic and the ginger, both start out spicy and sharp but mellow and become almost sweet as they cook. The cardamom adds a complex taste; it’s a bit minty, with a hint of citrus and a spicy/warm flavor. The original calls for basmati rice (which I didn’t have), but ordinary long grain white rice will do just as well. If you use the basmati rice, rinse it several times before starting to cook it.
Garlic Ginger Turmeric Rice
- 1 cup white rice
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped roughly
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 inch ginger, peeled
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1 T plus 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 4 whole peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 small stick cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Wash and drain the rice.
- Blend the onion, garlic, ginger, and 2 tsp of the oil in a food processor or mini chopper until it forms a paste.
- Pour the rest of the oil into a saucepan (about 2 quarts). Add the whole spices (peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom to the pan and cook on medium-high for a minute or two. The smell should start to waft through your kitchen and they may pop.*
- Scrape the garlic ginger mixture out of the mini chopper and add it to the pan with the spices.
- Reduce the heat to low, and stir everything around until the garlic/ginger becomes fragrant.
- Now add the rice, salt, and the water and stir well.
- Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat. Stir the rice, and simmer, with the pot covered, over low heat for 15-18 minutes.
- Once the rice is done, let it sit for a few minutes and steam.
*You can either leave the spices as is, and then make sure to pick them out of the rice when it's finished, or scoop them out into a tea ball. Then put the tea ball into the pot, and continue on with the rest of the recipe.
Turn Your Garlic Ginger Turmeric Rice Side Dish into A Main Dish
As is, this is a side dish. But with a bit of extra effort, it can become a main dish too. There are a couple of ways to do this. For example, you could make it more substantial by cooking up some chicken or adding leftover pre-cooked chicken to the rice. Or, cook up some spinach and fry and egg (in the same pan if you want), and add that to the top. You can do the same thing with the leftovers a few days. later. Instant food!
The recipe says that for special occasions, this dish was often served topped with blanched almonds and raisins. While this wasn’t a fancy occasion, I decided to do it anyway. I didn’t have blanched almonds, so I just roughly chopped a few whole ones. Soak the raisins in water a bit before you use them, in order to soften them.
More Rice Recipes
Easy Lentils and Rice Recipe
Black Beans and Rice Recipe for One Person
Lamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables