Fragrant Coconut Basmati Rice

This super delicate in flavor rice as it turns out is one of my mom's favorite. Every single time I call Israel and speak to her over the phone she doesn't cease to amaze me. Whether with her cooking tips, cooking techniques or some godforsaken dish she mentions, such as this Coconut Rice, that she hardly ever cooked at home while we were growing up. I know her mind is still sharp as a razor so I can't question her lucidity, though sometimes, just for a moment there, I wish to.

Over so many years she juggled six kids with different palettes. None of us liked raisins. Today, it is hard to fathom that I didn't.

This dish is sublime in its simplistic sophistication.

Fragrant Coconut Basmati Rice

2 cups basmati rice
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 3-inch each cinnamon sticks
8 whole cardamon pods
8 whole cloves
20 whole black peppercorns
Few strands of saffron
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups light coconut milk
2 cups water

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup golden raisins*

Rinse rice in cold water and drain in a fine mesh sieve.

In a large pan, heat up 4 tablespoons oil on medium heat. Add the cinnamon sticks, cardamon pods, cloves, black peppercorns, mix occasionally and temper for a couple of minutes until aromas are released. Add the cumin seeds while mixing and temper for a minute longer. Add completely drained rice and with a rubber spatula mix gently for few minutes. Do not break rice grains while mixing. Add coconut milk and water, bring to a boil. Once boiled turn completely down to the lowest heat, cover with a lid and let cook for approximately 20 minute until all liquid is evaporated. Turn off heat and let rice sit with lid on for at least 20 minutes. Take out cinnamon sticks, cardamon pods, cloves and peppercorns before serving.

Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat and fry raisins while mixing until they puff. Scoop raisins out with a slotted spatula and garnish the rice.

*My mom usually adds the raisins when she tempers the spices at the beginning, but I use them as a garnish, to keep this dish friendly for all those kids and adults who do not like raisins. Leave me a comment whether you are in the raisin camp or not and any memories and stories you have.