If you're missing one or two spices, you can simply omit them. You can also substitute cumin for the fennel, if you prefer. The fresh cilantro is not essential so feel free to omit it or substitute a little less fresh parsley, which won't be authentic but would taste fine.
Although basmati rice is the preferred type of rice to use, you can substitute other varieties, including Jasmine rice or long-grain brown rice, but don't use "sticky" or glutinous rice (e.g., Arborio or Asian sticky rices). Long-grain white basmati rice is the traditional choice and produces the most attractive dish.
This recipe make 4 to 6 hearty servings, and leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days.
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
|Spices for Basmati rice|
1 dried bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick piece, approx 1 1/2" long
6 green cardamoms, slightly cracked
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp salt (you can omit)
2 1/2 cups water
2 heaping Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
Melt the ghee or heat the oil in a large saucepan with lid over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaf and spices (NOT the cilantro), stir and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the rice and continue stirring until all grains are coated with the ghee or oil. Carefully add the water and salt, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover and cook for 45 minutes without lifting the lid. Turn off heat, let sit for two to five minutes, then remove lid (all the liquid should be absorbed). Use a fork or two to gently mix in the chopped cilantro while fluffing the rice (it's normal for there to be a bit of "crust" at the bottom of the pot). Serve hot.