In this Lemon, Cinnamon and Curry Leaf Basmati Rice recipe:
- Flavoring plain basmati rice with fragrant cinnamon, curry leaf and lemon
- Stunning presentation, rice baked in a pan
- Customize with your own spice and herb combination
- Recipe from award-winning chef, Yotam Ottolenghi
This past week, my parents came to visit for a few days, to see the family, relax from the bustle of Las Vegas, where they reside, and to cook for their daughter (me!) My Mom is a cookbook collector of all cuisines, with an entire room in the house dedicated to her glorious collection.
During this visit, I let my Mom have a go at my own glut of cookbooks that I’ve collected over the years, many of which come directly from publishers, pitching their latest releases. In what I would describe as one of the greatest gifts that I could bestow upon my Mother, I told her, “You may have any of my cookbooks – take as many as you’d like!”
My Mom gleefully spent hours sitting in front of my bookshelf, sliding one cookbook off at a time, flipping through them, and sorting which she would like. Mom doesn’t have many hobbies, but cooking and cookbooks are one of them.
I didn’t peek. I didn’t tell her which books were hands off, and I didn’t even hide any of my favorites! Mom was thrilled and even sent me a photo after she arrived back home – of her haul.
It wasn’t until today, writing this post, that I panicked a little. “What if she took Plenty More Cookbook?!”
I’m not ashamed to tell you that I did run back to the bookshelves, scanned quickly but didn’t find it on my first pass – and my heart sank. My second pass on the shelves spotted the book, sitting safe and sound right in front of me. “Whew!”
I’m not the only who loves this book, Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi was nominated as a finalist in the James Beard Awards. It’s well deserved, with 150 recipes featuring vegetables, and stunning, earthy photographs that highlight creative cooking techniques beyond the simple braise, boil and bake.
Why I cherish Plenty More Cookbook:
We’re thrilled to be sharing with you a recipe from the book, Lemon, Cinnamon and Curry Leaf Rice.
With all the fun gadgets at my disposal for making rice (I love to use the microwave to cook rice or my ultra fancy, technology wizard Zojurishi Rice Cooker), I rarely bake rice.
Such a shame, because the technique produces rice that is cooked more evenly and produces a nuttier, more flavorful rice. If you add aromatics, like lemon, cinnamon sticks and curry leaf, “this will be a revelation…” notes Ottolenghi.
What is curry leaf?
Curry leaf are the leaves of a South Asian curry tree, often used in Southern Indian, Cambodian and Malaysian cooking. The flavor is complex, pungently lemon, and is added to dishes as a whole leaf. The curry leaf is deeply aromatic, just a few leaves can flavor an entire dish. It’s called curry leaf, because the leaf is most often added into Indian curries, though I really love stir frying with whole curry leaves too.
We used have a curry tree growing at our old house, but sadly, it died after being forgotten in a corner of our garden. These days, when I need curry leaves, I head to a local Indian grocery store. If you can’t find the leaves fresh, they will probably have them frozen. The leaves freeze really well! If you buy a bunch, feel free to freeze the rest. The color of the leave will darken when frozen, but the flavor will be preserved.
More about Curry Leaves
- Indian Fish Coconut Curry – Steamy Kitchen
- NPR: Fresh Curry Leaves add a Touch of India
- Food 52: How to Buy and Use Curry Leaves
- Chana Masala Recipe – Veg Recipes of India
- Malaysian Chicken Curry – BBC Food
- Traditional Cambodian Seafood Curry – Taste
What if I don’t have curry leaves?
No problem! Use any herb that you love – from basil, parsley, bay leaves….to sage, oregano, cilantro and dill. Of course, the flavor profile of the rice will be different from the intended recipe, but use any spice/herb combination with this same exact cooking technique.
Learn more about Plenty More and Yotam Ottolenghi
Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi
Lemon, Cinnamon and Curry Leaf Basmati Rice Recipe
- 5 short cinnamon sticks
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 lemon
- 3 stems fresh curry leaves (about 25 leaves)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- salt and pepper
- In a large bowl, add the basmati rice. Fill bowl with water, swish the rice around a bit, drain the water (just use your hands to cup the rice and keep from spilling out), and repeat again. Fill again with water and let rice soak for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat your oven to 400F. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the rind off of the lemon in large strips (yellow part only). Cut lemon in half, squeeze out 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.
- Put the cinnamon sticks, cloves, lemon rind, curry leaves, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a saucepan. Cover with 2-3/4 cups of water and place over high heat. As soon as the water boils, remove the pan from the heat.
- Spread the rice out in a baking dish or roasting pan approximately 9-1/2 by 12 inches, cover with the boiled water and aromatics, and stir well. Lay a piece of waxed paper over the surface of the water and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, then remove and leave to sit, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Just before serving, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it’s melted and very hot, carefully add the lemon juice and swirl together to mix. Pour this over the hot rice and fluff up the rice with a fork. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve at once (you can remove the curry stems and cinnamon sticks or keep for the look).
Very nice recipe …we use to make this type of rice very often and some times we use various spices, vegetables and herbs.
Wow..never knew curry leaf is so famous outside Indian Too. Curry leaf is an integral part of south Indian Cuisine. It has a very strong flavour if added in lentil soup too. Am glad You like it.
Jaden, that rice is like a work of art! I don’t know if I want to make it or frame it! And clearly I need to get my mitts on that cookbook! Such a sweet thing to do for your mama. 🙂
We made this dish this weekend – everyone RAVED about it! So aromatic and you’re right about the method of cooking – so easy and foolproof for making rice. I added a little more salt to the recipe.
Rice is a staple in this house and I love using it for a side dish. I’m always looking for a new way to make rice and this recipe sounds fabulous. I’m excited to try it.
this is a must try for me as i am a great rice eater with any food meat or sweet dishes especially basmati rice it has a flavour all of its own
In Cambodian cuisine we used curry leaf in Sour Soup and more. We give the leaf a little burn before put it in the soup which made them smell absolutely amazing.
I love eat rice with herb… it just bring rice to another delicious level! 🙂
Oh my this is just delicious. I haven’t baked basmati rice yet for a main dish. But I have baked sweet or sticky rice for rice cake desserts I make during the holidays. This is a must-try for me. Hope you’re feeling much better and thanks for sharing this recipe, Jaden.
Trying this. Every recipe I have tried from your blog my family has loved.
I learned to cook rice in the oven from Julia Child back in the ’70s, and have not looked back! After starting it on the stove, I cover and bake it in a 325-degree oven for the rest of the time — about 15 minutes for white rice and double that for brown. Rest several minutes before fluffing with a fork.
Never use more than 1.5 cups water to 1 cup rice, no matter what the box says.
The aromatic herbs and lemon are a delicious addition!