Rice is a staple to more than half the world’s population! We think of it mainly with Asian food – Chinese and Japanese to be more specific – but being in the Southwest, we also know it is an integral part of Mexican cooking (whether it’s Cal-Mex, Tex-Mex, or any other version). So called “Spanish Rice” is almost universally served along with some kind of beans on most Mexican restaurant plates, and frequently in homes as well.
True Basmati rice comes primarily from India and Pakistan, though modified versions are produced elsewhere including the USA. Basmati is a long-grain rice which means it needs longer cooking (similar to brown rice). Many versions of so-called Basmati have been cross-bred with other long-grains to shorten cooking time and lower the price. Unfortunately, this has also lowered the quality and reduced the unique flavor of true Basmati.
This recipe can easily be made with any Basmati you find. If you happen on true Basmati – in an Indian or Pakistani or any Near East grocery, try to get their authentic way of cooking it so you will get to taste the pure flavor!
Meanwhile, this version easily transcends both Near East and Middle East food as well as Mexican as it includes flavors familiar to all of these. So try it with your next enchiladas or chicken curry – it will work well with both!
Chili Lime Basmati Rice
- 1 c Basmati rice, uncooked, rinsed and well drained
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 3/4 c onions, in 1/4″ dice
- 1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1-1/2 tsp. minced lime zest
- 2 Tbsp. cream (or milk or 1/2 and 1/2)
- 1-1/2 c water
- 1-1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. chopped, fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced chives
Preheat oven to 375.
Rinse raw rice several times and place well drained rice into an oven-proof casserole, sprayed with non-stick spray or well buttered.
In heavy saucepan, melt butter, add onions and sauté over medium heat until soft, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 30 – 45 seconds, stirring continuously.
Combine chili powder, lime juice, lime zest, cream and water and add to onion mixture. Bring to a boil. Stir entire mixture and pour into rice in the casserole. Mix to blend seasonings throughout the rice. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.
Fluff with a fork, then fold in chives and cilantro before serving.