Dinner on the cheap can be great. I usually opt for Indian variations as there is so much that can be done with some lentils and a cup of rice. The key here though is in a well stocked spice cupboard. I still have pots that I brought back from India that are so fragrant and unlike what gets imported to the UK: the cardamom seeds are bright green and the mustard seeds are big and black. They take me straight back to the good times. And you really can never have too many cumin seeds in the kitchen.
The other night therefore, I made a sweet and sharp dhal, with coriander rice and a red onion raita. But RICE. Rice is hard to do. I have to really challenge myself. The natural instinct for me is to rush things, and get impatient. This does not lend well to rice cooking, which is all about patience and quiet confidence. It should be light and airy and in the case of basmati, each strand should be separate. There shouldn't be a burnt bottom to your pan, and the ratio of water to rice should be such that you never need to drain it. It's a holy grail. Last night however, the rice turned out just right. Here's the thing:
for 2 people
1 cup of basmati rice
1 1/2 cups of water
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
a generous pinch of salt.
Measure out the rice and water into a medium saucepan. Place this on a high heat until it reaches the boil. Now turn the heat down to low. When you can no longer see any water, place a lid on the pan and turn the heat off. Leave the pan to sit for at least 20 minutes. Only at this point do you mix the rice.