Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sri Lankan Fragrant Yellow Rice

Sri Lankans love their rice.  Rice is a staple of the Sri Lankan diet.  So this fragrant yellow rice is just one of the many ways we love to eat our rice.  This is a rice you can eat just on it's own.  It is that flavorful.  Of course it goes great with vegetable sides and meat curries.   Once you make this rice, you may never want to eat plain rice again.

2 cups rice (see note)
12-20 curry leaves
1-2 pandan leaves (rampe)
1 cleaned and bruised lemongrass stalk
1 cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods
6 cloves
1 medium onion chopped
2-3 garlic cloves grated
2 Tbs of grated ginger
2-3 Tbs of margarine/butter
1 Tbs of canola oil
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2 cup of coconut milk
3 1/2 cups of chicken stock (see note)

Notes about the rice:  You can use white or brown rice for this dish.  I prefer Basmati style of rice since it has a more nutty flavor and tends be fluffier and not stick.  I actually used Brown Basmati for my dish.   You will want to wash the rice well.  I also recommend that you allow it to drain in a wire mesh strainer for 15-20 minutes so the rice will not be so wet when you fry it.

Notes about the liquid: I used chicken stock to bump up the flavor of the rice.  You can use chicken bullion, vegetable stock or plain water.  It's up to you.  Now the given ratio for liquid to rice is 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice.  I was cooking brown rice so I added an extra 1/2 cup of water per cup of rice.  **Make sure you count the coconut milk as liquid too**

On medium-high heat, melt your margarine and oil together.  Then add your curry leaves (tear them up with your fingers so it perfumes the oil better), cinnamon stick, cardamoms and cloves.  Allow to cook for about a minute until they become fragrant.

 Next add your onions, ginger and garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.

 Now add your raw rice and turmeric to the dish.  Fry for about 3-4 minutes until the rice turns opaque in color.  Make sure you stir it continuously so it does not burn and all the rice has a chance to be toasted.

Time to add your liquid.  If you are cooking white rice add 3 and 1/2 cups of stock or water and 1/2 a cup of coconut milk for the two cups of uncooked rice.   You can also add salt to the dish here to taste.  Remember if you are using stock that is not low sodium, taste for salt in the liquid before you actually add the salt.  

I added 4 and 1/2 cups of stock and 1/2 cup of coconut milk for my brown rice because it tends to need more liquid and cook longer.

If you are cooking the rice directly on the stove, you can bring it to a boil and then lower the heat and allow it to cook covered until all the liquid evaporates.  I am a rice cooker girl so I transferred all of rice and liquid to a rice cooker and allowed it to do all the work from this point on.

Serves 4 people.  You can serve it just as is or garnish it further with some cashew nuts, fried onions, raisins, fried boiled eggs, sauteed peas and carrots.  I liked it simply the way it is and my family and I ate it with a spicy pork curry and salad.  Enjoy.

Note:  If you are not used to eating rice with cinnamon sticks, cardamoms and cloves, try to pull them out before serving it.  If not, you may bite down on these and it's not a pleasant experience to it them straight.

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