Amira, which has been around since 1915, is based in Dubai today, but the company has Indian roots, and the rice comes from Indian farms. They sent over their Natural Basmati Rice and their Smoked Basmati Rice.
I tried the natural rice first in this Pistachio Lentil Biryani from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook back on Valentine's Day. Served here with the Cauliflower Tikka Masala also from that cookbook. This biryani had firm black lentils and pistachio meats for a distinctively Indian flavor. And the rice came out beautifully! You know how, sometimes, when you cook rice, it's either too mushy or a little too crunchy? Well, that didn't happen this time. This rice was fluffy and perfect.
I was most excited, though, to try the Smoked Basmati Rice because, as a Southern girl, I'm a sucker for anything smoked. When I opened the bag, I was immediately blown away by deep smoky aroma. It was like someone had infused the rice with Liquid Smoke. I don't know how they get the grains so smoky, but there's definitely a strong — and amazing — scent.
I wanted to let that smokiness shine through so I created a simple pilaf without too much extra added flavor. I used gentle, fresh herbs, garlic, and some veggie broth to complement the smoky flavor without overpowering. The result was this Smoked Basmati Pilaf with Fresh Herbs that made a great side dish this week with some Indian-spiced, grilled portabella mushrooms (more on those in an upcoming cookbook review).
Here's the recipe!
Smoked Basmati Pilaf with Fresh Herbs
Yields 4 servings
1 cup Amira Smoked Basmati Rice, dry
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan with a lid, combine the rice, water, and minced garlic. Turn heat to high. When the water comes to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 9 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it sit — still covered — for a few more minutes.
While the rice is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan often to prevent burning.
Stir the nuts, nutritional yeast, parsley, scallions, and thyme into the rice. Taste and season with salt and ground black pepper as desired.