Parsi Brown Rice

Veggie Dhansak With Parsi Brown Rice
Veggie Dhansak With Parsi Brown Rice. Image © Aparna Balasubramanian/ Wikimedia Commons
  • 35 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
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Indian food is a combination of various flavours - salty, sweet, bitter, sour and hot. Ideally these flavors should not only balance within a dish but a good meal should include dishes that balance each other's flavours too.

Though it is a traditional Parsi dish, Parsi Brown Rice is the perfect accompaniment to the savoury flavours of any curry as it has a very mild sweet taste due to the caramelised sugar that is added to it while cooking. The fried onions in it also impart some of the sweet taste - onions are rich in natural sugars. Parsi Brown Rice is also highly aromatic thanks to the whole spices used to cook it. Even though it is made with a long-grained white rice like Basmati, it gets its brown color from the caramelised sugar.

I learned how to make Parsi Brown Rice from my Sister-in-law-to-be, Zenia. She is of Parsi heritage and an excellent cook and learned to make this dish from her Granny. Parsi Brown Rice is traditionally served with Dhansak and Kachumbar salad in most Parsi homes. This is the perfect family lunch and one that begs a satisfied siesta after!

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups long grained Basmati rice
  • 2 tbsps vegetable/sunflower/ canola cooking oil or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (I usually use raw sugar)
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1" piece of cinnamon
  • 2 large onions sliced very thinly
  • 4 and a 1/2 cups hot water
  • Salt to taste

How to Make It

  • Wash the rice in a sieve under running water until the water runs clear. Drain the rice thoroughly in the seive.
  • Heat the vegetable/sunflower/ canola cooking oil or ghee in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan on a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sugar and cook until it caramalizes and turns dark brown and liquid. Stir frequently.
  • Add the whole spices and fry till they release their aroma (or turn slightly darker).
  • Add the sliced onions and fry until they are soft, translucent and starting to turn a pale golden colour.
  • Add the rice to this and mix well. Fry for 2 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  • Add the hot water and mix again.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce flame to a simmer.
  • Cook this way till the water almost dries up.
  • Now sprinkle about 3-4 tablespoons of water all over the rice, cover and cook till done. To check if rice is cooked, pick up a few grains and squeeze between thumb and index finger. The grains should feel firm but mash fully.
  • Turn off fire, cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Serve hot with Dhansak and Kachumbar salad.