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How to Cook Basmati Rice Recipe

How to Cook Basmati Rice

04.15.10 by Jackie

Ah, basmati rice. I don't think there is a food that better represents the similarities and differences of Indian Subcontinent and East Asian cultures. Rice is the staple starch in both of these Asian regions, but the preparation couldn't be more different. In the Far East, sticky jasmine rice is typically prepared with every meal. Chopsticks are the utensil of choice, which helps explain the popularity of rice that can stay clumped together on the journey from the bowl to the mouth.

By contrast, the quality of cooked basmati rice is judged primarily by how separate the grains remain. Traditionally, people of the subcontinent eat with their hands, and the various dals and kormas do a great job of creating cohesion.

Preparing basmati rice at home is not nearly as challenging as it may seem, but as is the case with many simple dishes, precision and care are required. Like pasta, if it's cooked past "al dente", basmati rice will become mushy.

I didn't have much experience with basmati rice until I got married. After more than five years, I have not only learned how to make it, I have come to love it. In our home, we make both sticky Asian jasmine rice and Indian basmati rice everyday to satisfy the different palates. We typically eat it with dal, but the girls love to have basmati rice with a little butter and sumac. Sumac is a common Middle Eastern spice and has a deep reddish, purple color. You can see it sprinkled over the rice in the photos.

If you don't have well cooked basmati rice on a regular basis, you don't know what you're missing. I know that for a long time I didn't!


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Chicken Kebab Burger Recipe

Chicken Kebab Burger

03.22.10 by Jackie

Chicken kebabs are both healthy and nutritious. The poultry is mixed with garbanzo beans and seasoned with Indian spices. I usually make this recipe when I have leftover chicken. We had company for dinner so I decided to make a complete meal out of them and serve them as burgers. I double-stacked 2 patties with tomato slices, cilantro, fresh mint, raita (Indian yogurt sauce), red onion and fried shallots.

The weather is getting clearer and sunnier by the day, so next time you think of a barbecue, you should consider making chicken shami kebabs (that's the real name of the dish). If you're planning a fancy dinner party, you could serve them as tapas. Bite-size burgers are getting very popular. Either way, you should definitely try this fresh take on an American classic.


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Beef Shami Kebab Recipe

Beef Shami Kebab

02.17.10 by Jackie

Shami kebabs are made with an abundance of fabulous spices, meat (beef, goat, lamb or chicken) and chana dal (dried garbanzo beans). The spices vary depending on whether they're from India (Lucknow or Hyderabad) or Pakistan. My husband Lulu's family is from Hyderabad. They're all meat-eaters, with the exception of my husband and father-in-law. So we often make this dish when we have family over for dinner.

These are not your average kebabs. The meat is cubed and cooked in a pressure cooker with chana dal, and once cooked, it's ground in a food processor with yogurt. The resulting mixture is formed into "hamburger" patties that can be frozen or seared, depending on when you plan on eating them.

I learned this recipe from Baji, Lulu's late grandmother. She was an excellent cook. When Lulu and I first got married, she was already giving us hints.

"Jackie, I'm going to teach you a meat specialty from my hometown. They're called Shami Kebabs; they're spiced hamburger patties. This recipe is a must-have when you two have little children. It's nutritious and easy for little ones to eat. Speaking of which, when are you going to give me great grand-children so I can feed these kebabs to them?"

I would always smile, nod and pretend I didn't hear the part about having kids. Don't get me wrong, we'd love to start a family, but the pressure was a little overwhelming. Lulu's grandmother isn't with us anymore, but I promise that I'll make this for my kids when I have them, assuming they don't become vegetarians like Lulu (fingers crossed).


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Hot Chocolate Recipe

Hot Chocolate

02.09.10 by Jackie

Every once in a while, the girls enjoy making their own hot chocolate. They usually top it with whipped cream and marshmallows. But with Valentine's Day coming soon, I wanted to make a special version of chocolat chaud for my husband. I used cocoa powder, real chocolate, cream, milk and a few spices such as nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. I added espresso coffee because it enhances the flavor of chocolate in the drink. This ingredient in particular is an easy way to give a new twist to an old classic. As another option, you could also give the drink additional heat for Valentine's Day by using red chiles.

I personally don't think you have to wait until Valentine's Day to make a cup hot chocolate for your special someone.  They'll appreciate it just as much if you make it tonight!


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Crepe Party: La Chandeleur Recipe

Crepe Party: La Chandeleur

02.02.10 by Jackie
Today (February 2nd) is La Chandeleur and crêpes are part of the French celebration. For those who don't know, a crêpe is a very thin pancake. The legend says that if you catch the crêpe flat (without it being wrinkled) with a pan after tossing it in the air with your left hand while holding a coin in your right hand, you will have a prosperous year until the next Chandeleur.



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