My yellow baby – Saffron baby basmati rice with tofu, red peppers and peas
Mon bébé tout jaune – Riz basmati nain au saffran avec tofu, poivrons et petits pois
The first time I saw baby basmati rice, was at the wonderful San Francisco grocery store, the Rainbow. It is one of my favorite stores in the city, not because of all the imported and organic products, or spices, or vegetables but because of the variety of what they carry. You can get at least 20 different types of rice, flours, cereals, tons of imported cheeses, etc…The store has everything from fresh sauerkraut, foreign cheeses and coffees, fresh yeast, pans, containers, kitchen utensils, herbal remedies, everything you can think of…the only think they don ‘t sell is fish and meat, since the store is mainly vegetarian, but everything is organic. If you live in the city, and never been to the Rainbow, you have to stop there at least once.
So going back to Baby basmati rice, it’s called Kaljira, it’s a basmati rice that has not fully grown. It is grown in Bangladesh and is used in any dish like a regular basmati. Its flavor is subtler and more delicate than regular basmati and its size is smaller too so it cooks quicker.
This dish is perfect for vegans, and is a quite complete, due to tofu and vegetables. It’s a whole meal by itself. Thanks to the saffron you get a deep beautiful yellow color and delicate fragrance. You can also serve it as a side dish to any meat, vegetable or fish.
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 1 1/3 cup baby basmati rice
- Vegetable broth
- 2 tbs olive oil
- ½ cup Frozen peas
- ½ red bell pepper
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 ½ tbs cilantro
- Salt and pepper
I used my Cuisinart Rice cooker, when I bought it; I thought another piece of equipment that I will never use. I was wrong; I use it all the time. Before my rice cooker, I cooked rice the old fashioned way, steaming it in a pot, soaking it first especially when using Basmati or Jasmine, then cooking it at very low heat for about 20-30 minutes. I saw my mom cook the rice in boiling water except when she was making risotto, and I will never do that to such a noble grain.
Soak the saffron strands in vegetable broth for about 15 minutes. Place the rice in a rice cooker, if you don’t have a rice cooker, use a regular pot. Add broth and start the cooking process.
In the meantime, heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onion, brown them well, then add the crushed garlic, stir for about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and brown on all the sides, then the vegetables, cover and cook at low heat until the peppers are tender.
When the rice is cooked, add to the pan and stir so that all flavors get mixed. Add cilantro and serve hot.
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