This recipe first appeared in 'A Dozen Ways to Celebrate: Twelve Decadent Indian Feasts for the Culinary Indulgent' (2014).
One year I experimented with rice dishes for the summertime lunchbox that were easy to make and simple for the indoor office environments I was working in (some people objected to spicy foods). I came across this wonderful quick and easy recipe, which I’ve made often and adapted to suit other ingredients as well. Dress it up with whole spices or keep it simple if you are short on ingredients. It takes some common kitchen ingredients and blends them into a flavorful dish that can not only stand on its own but also pairs just as well with rich onion-based dishes like choley, Rogan-Josh or Makhani Chicken. The dish is also great for the summer months, and is enjoyable luke warm as well, with a side of plain Greek yogurt and a splash of your favorite Indian pickle or quick relish.
Lemon Rice with Peas & Cashews
Diet: Vegan adaptable, Vegetarian, Gluten-free
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time, Ease: 40 minutes, Moderately easy
2 tbsp ghee
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, slivered
2" fresh ginger, julienned
5-10 fresh curry leaves (recommended)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 Indian bay leaf (optional)
1 star anise (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup shelled peas, parboiled and drained**
15-20 raw unsalted cashew halves
2 cups raw basmati or long grain rice, rinsed out with water and set aside
4 cups water, boiling hot
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt, to taste
In a large, heavy-bottom pan, heat the ghee. When it begins to melt, add the cumin seeds and allow them to release their flavors into the ghee. Add the slivered onions and stir. Cook until the onions have softened a little but not changed into a golden brown, for ½-1 minute, and then add the julienned ginger and curry leaves. Follow with the black peppercorns, bay leaf and star anise, if using, and allow them to release their flavors. After this has been cooking for 1 minute, add turmeric powder, peas and cashew halves, and stir well so that they are fully coated in the flavored ghee. Cook on a low heat for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the washed and drained rice to the pot. Using a long-handled spatula, stir the rice and the peas carefully to not break the grains. Ensure that the rice is coated in the ghee and spices and the peas are well incorporated into the rice. Cook for 1 minute and then slowly add the boiling water from the side of the pan. Stir the water in gently making certain that no rice sticks to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and add the salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 10 minutes. When the water has reduced to the same level as the rice, add the lemon juice evenly without stirring in, and cover the pot again. Keep the heat on low; check for doneness in 15 minutes. If it is not done, add a few tablespoons of hot water, cover, and continue to cook on low until done. Serve warm or at room temperature.
**For a one pot meal, finely cut carrots and steamed edamame also make a great nutrient rich addition. Par-boil these, and add when adding peas.