I frequently try out commercial spice mixes for dishes that I want to experiment with. I loved the pulao rice from an Indian restaurant near us and when it went out of business I had to figure out how to make it myself.
I went to the Indian supermarket and found this 4 x 6 inch box labeled “Pulao Rice” for $2.50. Inside was exactly: 2 teaspoons of cumin, a 3 inch cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, a brown cardamom pod, and 2 bay leaves. I felt ripped off, but it at least it made it easy to figure out the proportions of each spice that the makers felt was proper for pulao rice. Making the rice by the box directions did not even come close to reproducing the Indian restaurant’s rice. It was time to experiment.
This was the first time I had ever seen a brown cardamom pod (a.k.a. black cardamom). Brown cardamom gives a smoky, slightly minty flavor to a dish. It is also much larger and hairier that the more familiar green cardamom (or true cardamom). White cardamom is simply bleached green cardamom. I would recommend that you do not use the white unless you are making a very light dish that would be discolored by the green pods or you want to deliberately mute the cardamom flavor in your dish.
Karl’s Pilao Rice
3 Tbs. clarified butter
1 small onion, diced fine
3 tsp. of cumin
1 three inch cinnamon stick
8 cloves, whole
2 brown cardamom pods, slightly cracked open
2 bay leaves
1½ cups basmati rice
2½ cups chicken broth
½ cup frozen peas
¼ cup cilantro leaves, course chopped
1. In a medium pot, sauté the onions until soft, 3 – 4 minutes.
2. Add the spices and sauté for one minute more, until fragrant.
3. Add the rice and continue cooking for a few minutes, until the rice turns white.
4. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover the pot with a lid wrapped in a towel. Simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Stir in the peas and pull the rice away from the sides of the pot. In other words, mound the rice into a cone shape in the bottom of the pot. Replace the wrapped lid and steam for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the rice is tender.
6. Remove to a serving bowl and garnish with the cilantro.