This is a recipe for the most basic rice accompaniment to North Indian meals. My mom cooked it nearly every day for me when I was growing up. She also made roti for everyone else, but I always preferred rice to bread.
1. In a heavy-bottomed, 4- or 6-quart / 4- or 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat, warm the oil. Add the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown.
2. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, until the onion has slightly browned and is opaque. Add the rice and salt and sauté for 1 minute, stirring gently to ensure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the water and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 8 minutes, until the moisture just evaporates. Remove from the heat and set aside, fully covered, for at least 5 minutes. I find that this step really helps the rice absorb the extra moisture and fluffs it up.
4. Remove and discard the whole spices and fluff the rice with a fork before serving. You can also leave the whole spices in as a decorative touch, as long as your guests know not to chomp down on them.
5. Transfer to a serving bowl and use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.