Rice is Nice: Bangladeshi Basmati Rice

Today, something different. Rice!

I wasn’t originally going to do rice. The plan was to make ghee (clarified butter) since it’s one of the staple cooking ingredients in weeks to come. However, my ghee turned out like this:


I’m pretty sure that ghee is not supposed to be that dark, or have the “Cajun” effect.  I’m not sure what happened- I watched it very carefully! Anyway, I wasn’t up for wasting another stick of butter in another attempt, so in the future I’m either going to be using regular old butter or be buying my ghee. I hate to admit that I was defeated by a stick of butter, but the sad reality is that a part of me just doesn’t care enough, and that part is bigger than the part that does.

Therefore- RICE!

While I may have just thrown some rice at you a few days ago, I swear this one’s different. Very different. So different that your taste buds wouldn’t realize you were eating the same grain.

This rice is also a rice pilaf of sorts, but rather than red rice I’m using Basmati; rather than red onion I’m using yellow; rather than hot spicy this is flavor spicy; no peas versus peas.

See? SO different. But still oh-so-excellent.


Mama Buddha didn’t make basmati rice all that much, but when she did, she made it like this so on a day when I was feeling “meh” about the day, it was a lovely little taste of home.

In some ways, rice is just rice, but like the Bhutanese red rice, the wow factor comes from the pre-liquid prep. I mentioned before how Bangladeshi cuisine is very heavy into the whole seeds/spices and spice pastes, and this is a shining example of that.


Before the spices are throw in to the pot with the rice and liquid, they are cooked a bit in fat, releasing their oils and flavors in a way that brings this plain old rice into the stratosphere.  The smell filled my house and turned my “meh” into “wee!” and I couldn’t wait to dig in.


Serves 4-6

Recipe adapted from Virtual Bangladesh


1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed

2 cups water

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

4 black peppercorns

2 cloves

½ tsp whole cumin seeds

1 TB butter

1 TB salt

½ cup frozen peas


1.  In a small saucepan (or a small skillet if, like me, you’re using a rice cooker), melt the butter.  Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves and peppercorns. Cook about 1 minute until the spices become fragrant.

2.  Add the onion and carrots, and cook until just starting to get soft, about 3 minutes.

3.  Add the rice and cook about 2 minutes until just toasted.

4.  Now, either a) transfer the skillet contents into a rice cooker with the 2 cups of water and let it rock and roll or b) add the water to the sauce pan and bring to boil, then reducing to a simmer until the rice is cooked.

5.  Five minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the frozen peas to the hot rice and cover, letting the peas thaw through.  Fluff with a fork and dig in!



It’s pretty hard to make rice look sexy. Perhaps the sexiest thing about this dish is that Michael Buble was crooning in the background as it cooked. Fear not, because its sexiness comes in later when it’s paired with the chicken bhuna and chicken korma, so stay tuned for that.

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  1. Your ghee was burned, unfortunately. It happens within a couple of minutes of the remaining water molecules evaporating from the butter. The temperature is no longer held at 100C by the evaporation process, and skyrockets to well over 160 in a very short time (2-3 minutes). The milk proteins caramelise (time to stop and filter the ghee), then burn (too late!).

    • Yes, it was an unfortunate disaster. Thanks for the science lesson though- I had no idea it was so temperamental. Will work on it next time!

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