Rice with Peas and Dill

Rice with Peas and Dill
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rice with peas and dill and a chapati
With a chapati, a simple dinner.

We’re back from our little vacation break over the Thanksgiving holiday. Naturally, we have a new recipe for you. Today’s recipe is pretty simple and easy — we needed an easy dish after flying in cattle coach class back to the not-so-sunny southwest (at least it’s not sunny as we write). We chose this for simplicity and the couple of cups of rice in the cupboard that we used as pie weights for the Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche. Rice that’s used as pie weights doesn’t quite cook up the same, but….

We’ve had this recipe sitting on the back burner for quite a while. We found it when we were looking for Indian dishes, oh, about 2-3 years ago, and it just sat in the Scratchin’ It files patiently waiting its turn. The original recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking,  although we swapped out four cardamom pods (which we didn’t have) for ginger (which we had).

Rice with Peas and Dill

Yield: about 6 cups

Rice with Peas and Dill


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbs finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small onion, sliced and cut into half rings
  • 1-2 tsp salt, depending on the saltiness of the stock
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 Tbs dried dill
  • 2 3/4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Abbreviated Instructions

Thoroughly rinse rice in several changes of water. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add cloves and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ginger and onions and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to brown.

Add rice, 1 teaspoon salt, garam masala, and dill, and stir until rice is coated.

Add stock, stir, and bring to a boil. Taste and add remaining salt, if needed. Reduce heat to very low, cover and steam 15 minutes.

Add peas, stir gently, cover and continue cooking for another 5 to 7 minutes or until rice is done.

Fluff rice before serving.


Ingredient discussion:

Basmati rice is traditional for Indian dishes, so use that if you can, but we’re sure other types of rice will work, too. Any kind of light vegetable oil is fine; we used canola oil. Garam masala is a spice mix commonly found in Indian food; you’ll be able to find it at an ethnic market (it’ll be cheaper than at the supermarket). If you have fresh dill, use that and increase the amount to 1/4 cup.

Procedure in detail:

Rinse rice. Place the rice in a small bowl, add water, swish around and drain. Repeat about 7 to 8 times. Then drain the rice and set aside.

mise en place
We had a few minutes before we started cooking, so we got all our ingredients ready.

MIse en place. No real reason for getting everything ready beforehand, but, since the rice was already prepped, we took the opportunity to put the garam masala, dill, and 1 teaspoon of salt on top of the rice — they all go in at the same time — chop the onion and ginger, and fish out some cloves.

Fry cloves. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until it shimmers and ripples. Add the cloves and let them sizzle and fry, shaking the pan around, until they’re fragrant, about 1 minute.

frying onions
Don’t brown the onions too much. We added the rice just as they started to brown.

Add onion and ginger. Stir the ginger and onion into the oil and fry, stirring or swishing the pan often, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

oil coated rice
Stir the rice around in the oil until it’s completely coated.

Add rice. Pour the rice, garam masala, dill, and 1 teaspoon of salt into the oil, and stir until the rice is coated with oil, about 1 minute.

Add stock. Stir in the stock or water, bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to as low as possible. Taste the liquid, and, if needed, add the remaining salt. Cover.

Steam. Rice cooks by steam, so let the rice steam away, covered and without peeking, for about 15 minutes.

adding peas
Using frozen peas meant we didn’t have to pre-cook them; just make sure that you have enough time so they get heated through.

Add peas. Gently stir in the peas. You need to be gentle because basmati rice is fragile and will break apart easily. Once stirred in, re-cover the saucepan and let everything steam an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

Fluff. Right before serving, use a fork to fluff the rice gently.

This was an okay, but not a great, dish. Since we were using toasted rice, we knew our rice would break apart a bit more than usual, which detracted somewhat from the texture. It was also rather bland, perhaps appropriate for rice, since it’s often served as a side or base (we added a little more flavor by using tamari sauce). Even so, we think it would be better with even more flavor — more like a rice pilaf — so it could be used as a main. Perhaps toasted sliced almonds would be good on top, as they’re always good on other pilafs. Three stars.

Worth the trouble?

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