Perfectly cooked Basmati Rice Recipe filled with fresh herbs, savory caramelized onions, dried apricots, almonds, and fresh lemon juice. Delicious warm or cold, enjoy this light and flavorful side dish with all your favorite main course recipes including garlic herb lamb chops and creamy baba ganoush.
Basmati Rice with Fresh Herbs and Caramelized Onions
Prized for its long, tender, fluffy grains and delicate flavor, basmati rice is best known for being served alongside curries, meats, and stews all across India and the Middle East. But that’s not all it’s good for. Today I’m sharing one way to turn simple basmati rice into something truly delicious. Follow my lead or modify to using your own favorite ingredients.
What is Basmati Rice?
One of the most popular types of long-grain Asian indica rice, basmati rice was traditionally grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and remains the predominant rice used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
With the longest grains of any type of rice, basmati rice is known for being long and slim and may often triple in length when cooked. Characterized by its light, nutty flavor, and somewhat floral aroma, cooked basmati rice is fluffy, tender, yet firm, and should remain separate rather than clumped together.
Like all rice varieties, it comes in both brown and white varieties. It is sometimes recommended to soak basmati rice for 30 minutes before cooking to reduce cooking time by 20% and maintain flavor (however I have never felt the need to do this).
Ingredients in this Basmati Rice Recipe
- Butter + Olive oil
- Long-grain basmati rice
- Dried apricots
- Fresh mint + parsley
- Lemon zest + juice
Can I use a different type of rice?
Yes. If you don’t have any basmati rice, try using another type of long-grain rice such as jasmine rice or standard American long-grain white rice. Medium-grain and short-grain rice will result in stickier, less fluffy rice, and isn’t recommended.
Can I use brown basmati rice to make this recipe?
Yes. Take note that the rice to water ratio for brown basmati rice versus white basmati rice is different, as well as the total cook time. You will need,
- 1 cup rice, 1 3/4 cup cooking liquid
- Approximately 35 minutes covered cook time over low heat plus 10 minutes to steam off the heat
Or, learn how to cook your brown rice in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker). It turns out perfectly every time.
How can I make this recipe vegan?
To make this simple basmati rice recipe vegan, simply omit the butter for additional olive oil. Also, if you choose to cook your rice in a liquid other than water, make sure it’s vegan too, like vegetable broth.
How to Cook Basmati Rice
There are countless ways to cook rice. Some people swear by their rice cooker, while others have even found success cooking rice in the oven. For me, and in the case of this recipe, I’ve found that it’s easiest to cook my rice on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot.
Click here to learn How to Cook Rice in the Instant Pot.
There are three ways to cook rice on the stovetop: Cook your rice like pasta method, the simmer and steam (or absorption) method, and the pilaf method.
All methods work with basmati rice, however, I’ve chosen to cook my rice according to the absorption method. Fortunately, you’re probably pretty familiar with this method already.
1. Wash your rice. The reason for washing rice is yes, to get it clean, but also, to remove the surface starch from your rice. Skip this step and no matter how well you cook your rice, it will turn out clumpy and gummy. Here’s how to properly wash rice:
- Transfer rice to a large bowl or pot and fill with cold water. As the water is running, very gently use your hand to fold the rice over itself from end of the pot to the other. We don’t want to break our rice grains, so gently folding or circular motion is best.
- Drain the starchy water through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Repeat step 1 rinsing and draining until water runs nearly clear. It’s pretty impossible to get completely clear water.
- Drain and allow the strainer filled with rice to rest atop your pot or bowl until drained completely.
2. With the rice all nice and clean, it’s time to add the water (or chicken broth or vegetable broth) to a medium saucepan or pot set over high heat. Bring just to a boil.
3. Once the water is boiling, immediately add the rice plus a pinch of salt. Mix once and return to a gentle simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low.
4. Cook the rice for 18-20 minutes. By now the liquid should be absorbed. If it’s not, continue to cook over low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and allow the rice to rest (or steam) for 10 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork.
That is how you cook perfect basmati rice for this recipe. You will need to determine if you want to add caramelized onions (highly recommended). If yes, start cooking your onions before you start the rice, as caramelized onions take quite some time to cook.
What Can I Serve with this Basmati Rice Recipe?
This recipe does really well with Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mediterranean flavors. And though it is delicious served alone, it is especially amazing when presented with a combination of grilled or roasted meats and veggies, dips, yogurt, and warm pita bread.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Tabbouleh (Tabouli Salad Recipe)
- Tandoori Chicken Gyros with Curried Yogurt Sauce
- Grilled Veggie Skewers
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
- Garlic Butter Pork Chop Recipe
More Rice Recipes,
If you try this Easy Basmati Rice Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Basmati Rice Recipe with Caramelized Onions
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 medium onions - chopped or sliced
- 1 cup white basmati rice
- 1.5 cups water - (vegetable broth, chicken broth, or chicken stock)
- 1/2 cup dried apricots - chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley - minced
- 1 tbsp fresh mint - minced
- 1 cup almonds - chopped
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Fresh lemon juice - to taste
- Salt and pepper - to taste
- Transfer the basmati rice to a large bowl and fill cold water. Swish around the grains using one hand then drain the cloudy water through a fine-mesh strainer. Repeat this process of filling, swishing, and straining until the water turns clear. Keeping the rice in the fine-mesh strainer, set aside to continue draining as you prepare the onions.
- Thinly slice or chop your onions. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and the oil is hot, add the onions, mixing well to coat in oil and butter. Continue to cook your onions for approximately 20-40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the onions are deeply browned. Reduce heat to medium-low heat if needed to prevent the onions from burning.
- Bring the water to a low boil in a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Immediately add the washed and drained rice and a pinch of salt. Return to a low boil and immediately cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to low. Allow rice to cook for 18-20 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat. Uncover and add the chopped apricots. Return the lid and allow the rice and apricots to steam for 10 minutes.
- Remember to check your onions.
- Once your basmati rice has finished steaming, remove the lid and gently fluff with a fork.
- Add the fresh parsley, mint, almonds, and lemon zest. Gently toss to combine.
- Remove the onions from the pan and gently combine with the rice.
- Season with salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice, as needed.
- Replace the dried apricots with raisins.
- Skip the caramelized onions and add bacon instead.
- Replace the almonds with pistachios or macadamia nuts.
- Every 1 cup of rice makes approximately 3-4 cups of cooked rice.
- As written, is gluten-free and vegetarian. To make vegan and dairy-free, omit the butter.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)