Indian Basmati twist to Rice and (NO) Beans

Couldn't resist it but adding some more buds with this recipe. The Lilac was so stubborn to establish, see this post, that felt like the blooms last year appeared in the summer. I was just sitting on a bench by the lilac, as I raised my eyes to look at all the pollen showering me from the sky, much to my surprise I saw the buds, twice as many as last year.
So proud! The madness of digging it out and replanting was all worth it. But let's back track here, I am writing this post about what started as a rice and bean dish,, and what morphed into an Costco Himalayan Indian basmati rice (no) bean twist on one of my son's favorite rice dishes. We had twenty some of my son's high school soccer varsity teammates over for team dinner last evening. I wanted to freshen up a three year old menu they expect to find in our house with a new dish. I added to the chicken and flank steak fajitas a twist on my son's favorite rice and bean dish. Could not really serve them beans pre-game day, was worried the Jasmine rice will come out sticky with the bell peppers and onions, so I went with a grain that was a success every single time I cook with it. May I add, only crazy me, will make three small batches of two cups each to get the exact results I wished for. All six cups completely consumed! I also realized I ran out of tomatoes the day prior so I used tomato sauce instead. Together with the yellow and orange bell peppers I had in the fridge, instead of red, the dish took on a personality of it's own. See photograph for a pretty accurate depiction of the color of the rice. This is our fourth and last year hosting as Sagie is heading to college next year. A bitter sweet goodbye!

Indian basmati and (no) Bean:
Costco find: Basmati Rice

2 cups basmati rice
1 large onion, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
4 oz tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon or less cumin
Canola oil
Fresh black pepper
*3 1/2 - 4 cups of water (see note below)

Options and original rice and bean version:
1 jalapeno sliced
Red bell pepper
15.5oz black beans, gently rinsed in cold water and drained
1-2 grated tomatoes
(Jasmine instead of basmati rice)

Gently rinse basmati rice in cold water few times to get rid of the starch. Let drain and dry in a large sieve. In a deep large pan add some canola oil, heat up on low/medium, add onions and cook for couple minutes, add bell peppers and cook longer until onion bell pepper mixture is soft and onion is translucent. Add drained rice and mix with a rubber spatula occasionally. Be careful not to break grains in the process. Continue until all rice grains are fried, get milky white color, but not burnt from frying. Add four cups of water or less, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, give it a quick mix, and reduce immediately to very low. Cover with a lid until water evaporates. Turn off heat and let sit for additional 20 minutes on turned off burner. Hold pot by handles and flip rice (or scoop) into large casserole dish and fork the rice gently so the grain separates and fluffy. This dish can be made a day ahead and reheated in oven covered with foil. For a quicker heating method microwave is an option as well.

*Note on moisture in rice: Usually for basmati rice I use 1:2 proportion 1 cup rice:2 cups water. Since there is so much more moisture in this rice from bell peppers, tomatoes and onions, you can reduce the water to 3 1/2 cups for nicely dried and flaky rice.

Directions on original recipe: Use red bell pepper instead of yellow and orange. Add jalapeno when frying onion bell pepper mixture. Substitute one grated tomato for the tomato sauce or two if you want more of red color and tomato flavor. For the beans; two ways: one at the after the rice cooks add to dish. Second, the way I favor is: when rice gets to boiling point, once you reduce the heat to low, quickly and gently stir in the beans and follow the rest of the instructions as mentioned above.
You can also substitute jasmine rice for the basmati but then you won't have any Indian twist left, would you


  1. You fed 20 high school boys? You are a brave woman, and I salute you. The dish looks and sounds great, too!

  2. Thanks Angela. For four years believe it or not...loads of fun the guys have while here..and not a shred of food left:)

  3. I love basmati rice and am anxious to try it this way. Good to know about the different moisture ratios with the bell peppers.

    Also, I grew up with a giant lilac bush on the south side of my house, blowing the intoxicating scent through the windows on warm breezy days. Thanks for stirring a lovely memory :)

    Erika K

    Cuisinart 12 Cup Food Processor