This cinnamon, ginger, black mustard seeds basmati rice is flavoured with a light hand. As it is so gently flavoured, it goes with any saucy dish that wants to be paired with rice. I am posting this recipe as a follow up to my preceeding recipe, Citrusy Seafood Curry, which I like a lot and is a relatively easy recipe. The rice can be cooked in advance and kept warm on the burner.

You can tell from the photograph that basmati rice holds its shape very well. It would be quite difficult to cook a mushy pot of rice with it. If you are serving a rice dish to impress, I suggest choosing basmati rice over long or short grain rice. It is a very forgiving variety of long grain rice and allows you a wider margin of error. From Spanish Paella to a Chinese style Claypot Chicken Rice, to a Malay style of Coconut Flavoured Rice, I have moved on to using exclusively basmati rice when cooking flavoured rice.

Basmati rice has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) compared to regular long or short grain rice. That simply means, it takes a longer time for the carbohydrate to gradually break down into glucose, keeping you fuller longer and encourages your body to burn fat. Diabetics are often advised to eat lower GI foods to keep their glucose levels stable. Not all basmati rice are alike. Please scroll down to my ‘Tips’ section to find out the brand that I am prepared to recommend with confidence. I bought many bags of basmati rice before I was pleased with the current brand that I use. Let me save you the same agony. Do read my tips.

Lightly Flavoured Basmati Rice

Prep: 5 minutes 
Cook: 32 minutes
Inactive: 15 minutes
Level: Easy
Serves: ~6
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes.
Make ahead? Yes, but keep warm.

Ingredients

3 cups basmati rice*
2 Tablespoons neutral tasting oil
10 g slivered ginger (from a 0.78″/2 cm knob)
1″ cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 to 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt (I like it a bit more salted so I go with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons)
3 cups water if you are cooking rice in a rice cooker
3 and 1/2 cups water if you are cooking rice on a burner
3 Tablespoons of butter
Cilantro/Parsely for garnishing (optional)
Almonds or any other nuts for garnishing (optional)
* Please scroll down to my ‘Tips’ section, to learn how to choose and buy the right brand of basmati rice.

Method

1. Rinse the rice until water runs clear. It takes me one or two rinses. Drain in a colander. Only rinse and drain the rice when you are ready to cook. If you rinse and drain it too early, some of the water left clinging to the rice will get soaked in and it could lead to rice that is too wet upon cooking.

Cooking rice over the burner
1. In the pot (preferably a nonstick) that you will be using to cook the rice, pour in the oil to warm up over medium heat.
2. Once hot, add ginger and cinnamon. Stir for 30 seconds or until you smell the ginger cooking.
3. Stir in the black mustards seeds. The seeds will pop in 5 to 10 seconds or less. Mustard seeds burn easily so watch carefully.
4. Quickly add in the basmati rice and stir until most of the residual water from the rice has evaporated. This should take 1 minute or less depending on how well you drained your rice.
5. Add the water and salt, stir, cover and increase the fire to high.
6. Once it comes to a boil, uncover the pot, stir and reduce the heat to between very low to low. Cover and leave it alone for 15 minutes.
7. Uncover the pot after this time. The water will be completely absorb and the rice grains will look half cooked as the centres will still be opaque compared to the rest of the rice grain. Stir well from bottom to top to loosen and fluff up the rice. 20 seconds will do.
8. Cover again and cook for another 15 minutes.
9. Uncover, add the butter and give it a quick stir to incorporate. Cover and turn off the burner. Leave it on the burner for at least 15 minutes before serving.
10. Check for salt before plating.

Cooking rice with a rice cooker
1. When using a rice cooker, the amount of rice has to equal the amount of water used to cook the rice. So use the same measuring cup to measure out rice and water.
2. In a saucepan, pour in the oil to warm up over medium heat. Once hot, add ginger and cinnamon. Stir for 30 seconds or until you smell the ginger cooking. Stir in the black mustards seeds. The seeds will pop in 5 to 10 seconds or less. Mustard seeds burn easily so watch carefully.
3. Quickly add in the basmati rice and stir until most of the residual water from the rice has evaporated. This should take 1 minute or less depending on how well you drained your rice.
4. Transfer to the rice cooker, add the water and salt. Follow the instructions of your rice cooker and continue cooking in the rice cooker.
5. If the rice is not cook through, add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water over the rice. Do not stir. Cover and leave it alone for 15 minutes.
6. Uncover, add the butter and give it a quick stir to incorporate. Cover and turn off the burner. Leave it alone for at least 15 minutes before serving.
7. Check for salt before plating.

To serve
1. Fluff the rice and transfer to a serving vessel. If you choose to, garnish with cilantro/parsley and nuts.

Tips

I like the brand of basmati rice that I use. It is of a good quality and smells right. There is a wide variety of basmati rice available in the market. If someone could have steered me towards a trusted brand to purchase, I would not have had to go through five brands myself.

This is my experience with buying my first bag of basmati rice. I was at the supermarket staring at bags of rice on the supermarket shelves. There were only two brands of basmati rice to choose from. I thought rather naively, “This supermarket must be rather confident about the quality of these two brands to just stock two brands.” Based on this ignorant assumption, I picked up a random brand. I returned home and was ready to cook. I opened the bag of rice. One whiff of the rice and I knew it was not going to be good. Against my better judgement, I cooked it and let me say, I should have trusted my nose. I could not bring myself to eat more than a tasting portion. It smelled and tasted so not good. Thereafter, I worked through a few other brands of basmati rice with trepidation as there is a lot of pretty bad smelling/tasting basmati rice out there. I am so glad I found these two brands:

From California, Lundberg, Eco-Farmed California Brown Basmati Rice
They also carry white basmati rice. I have seen this brand sold in a few local supermarkets.  Strangely, it is found under the ‘Health Foods’ and not ‘Rice’ aisle of the supermarket. I get my supply online from iherb.com. It comes in 2 lb (970 g) bags.

From the Himalayan foothills, Daawat
This brand of basmati rice has a clean aroma and is my brand of choice. This is also the rice I use in this recipe and my recipe for Seafood Paella.Locally, the Dawaat brand can be purchased rather easily from Indian grocery stores. I have not seen it on the shelves of local supermarkets. The smallest bag is 2.2 lbs/1 kg.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

The ‘chocolatiest’ of chocolate cookies! They actually taste more chocolatey with keeping so these are perfect if you are baking for gifting this holiday season.
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