Indian basmati rice with peas recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Indian basmati rice with peas recipe

Indian basmati rice with peas | Pamela Salzman

I am 100% Italian and I absolutely love pasta, but I also looooooove rice.  Love!  I am crazy about all kinds of rice and it shows in my pantry.  I have so many varieties of both white and brown rice and I never get tired of it.  Overeating pasta doesn’t make me feel great and makes it very hard for me to maintain any semblance of an ideal weight.  But I digest rice really well and I think it’s so versatile and really easy to pair with food from any cuisine, even Italian!

I have made rice into pudding, baked it with eggs and vegetables for a scrumptious breakfast, wrapped seaweed around it, and topped it with beans and vegetables.  This week I made a delicious vegetable paella for dinner which I know I am going teach in a class one day.  Total winner!

rice, turmeric, butter, salt, garlic

I know rice has gotten some bad media attention in the last year due to some scary reports about unsafe levels of arsenic found in many rice products.  Please read this article I wrote last year so that you are informed and don’t get freaked out.  There are ways you can significantly reduce any arsenic present in whole rice (not much you can do about arsenic in rice cakes or rice cereal, which is why I have reduced the kids’ exposure to rice-derived products.)  Basmati rice, which I think has the best flavor and is my favorite variety, also seems to have the least amount of arsenic.  Lucky me!

all in the pot

I have a beautiful and very healthful rice recipe I’d like to share and I don’t want you to get scared off by the unusual color or that I labeled it “Indian.”  I know there are some of you out there who think you don’t like Indian food.  And maybe you tried some from a not-so-great place and it was lousy.  In that case, I don’t blame you.  BUT.  Let’s leave the past behind and look forward to something that IS delicious.  Furthermore, this rice recipe is so basic and neutral.  It’s not spicy nor doesn’t it have a flavor that is outside of most people’s comfort zone.  It will go with that roast chicken you’re making later or my spice-rubbed salmon.  And if you’re vegetarian, you can just eat this bowl of golden goodness with a green salad or some roasted vegetables (eggplant is nice right now) and you’ll be all set.   Rice and peas together will give you plenty of protein, not to worry.

bring to a boil

The crazy beautiful color of this rice comes from turmeric, the most talked about, most popular spice of the moment that is basically anti everything you don’t want.  Anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, etc.  Someone just told me that there was a study done on Indians (people living in India) because they have the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and it is attributed to their abundant intake of turmeric.  I try to use fresh turmeric when I juice and I have been using it in place of saffron, as well (like in that vegetable paella I was talking about.)   I have also included turmeric in my DIY taco seasoning and Chicken and Vegetable Curry.  Just be forewarned, it stains like mad so use extra caution when serving anything with turmeric, even be careful of your countertops.  (As a last resort, I have had success using a drop of Clorox Clean-up to get out a stubborn turmeric stain in my white marble countertops.)

If you have leftovers of this rice, definitely consider using it in lunchboxes the next day.  Are we surviving making lunches??  See this post if you’re still at a loss.  Back to rice — make this!  Try something new!  Let me know how it goes!

Indian basmati rice with peas | Pamela Salzman

4.8 from 11 reviews
Indian Basmati Rice with Peas
Serves: 6
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice, either brown or white
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, coconut oil or olive oil (I think butter tastes best.)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric (you can use more, but you’ll taste it)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • chopped cilantro to taste, if desired
  1. Rinse your rice in a fine mesh sieve, if desired. Transfer rice to a medium saucepan and add all ingredients except peas and cilantro.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer. Cook white rice for 18-20 minutes, brown rice for 45-50 minutes, or until all water has evaporated.
  3. Add frozen peas to rice and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Fluff rice with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.
If you are concerned about arsenic, you should soak your rice in water for 1-8 hours before using it.  That process also makes brown rice more digestible.  If you do soak the rice, you will cook it in less time and you can use a few Tablespoons less water, depending on how long you soaked it.  Test brown rice for doneness after 35 minutes, and white rice after 15 minutes.

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  1. The recipe says to add 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric.

    Then it says “you can use more, but you’ll taste it”.

    Isn’t that the whole point? To taste it? To add flavor? If you didn’t want to taste it, why would you add it to begin with?

    • The amount of turmeric listed in the recipe is enough to add a vibrant yellow color to the rice and a subtle turmeric flavor. I made a note that you can use more, but you’ll taste it in case some people are not used to the earthy flavor of turmeric. Feel free to adjust to your preference.

  2. Can you make in a Japanese rice cooker?

    • I haven’t tried it but I don’t see why not.

  3. Thanks for this recipe, it was great! made it twice already, once with butter, and once with coconut oil, We preferred the
    coconut oil

    • Terrific! Thanks for commenting.

  4. Simply a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great style and design .

  5. This is our go-to basmati rice recipe for Indian meals. However, we always saute a bit of finely chopped onion in olive oil prior to adding the rice and then throw in cardamom pods, whole cloves, and a small cinnamon stick prior to bringing the pot to a boil. Kind of a mash-up between this recipe and Bobby Flay’s basmati rice recipe. Such a winner, thank you!

    • That all sounds so, so delicious. What a fragrant dish that must be!

    • I was looking for a recipe with hint of cinnamon. East Indian coworker brought similar recipe to covered dish lunch and I misplaced her recipe.thanks

      • Hmmmm, check out my friend website.

  6. Made this last night to go with the cheap, microwaveable Indian pouches and some rotisserie chicken thrown in the mix. It was the bomb! So easy and delicious! Thank you!

    • Great! Sounds like you pulled together a great meal. 🙂

  7. This was lovely. We made it with white rice and garam masala (and turmeric ;-). And ate it with vegetarian samosa’s.

    • Perfect meal!

    • Samosas. Not Samosa’s
      Never pluralize with an apostrophe!

  8. Is it good if served cold?

    • Eh, I don’t love cold rice, but that’s a personal preference.

  9. I used peanut oil with my white basmati rice, and this recipe was easy and absolutely delicious, I wanted it to go with a much more complicated Pork Vindaloo I was making and needed something that wouldn’t take half the day to prepare. This is five stars in my book. Thank you, Pamela!

    • So glad to hear that. 🙂 Sometimes I leave out the peas if I want something uber simple!

  10. Just came across this great rice recipe, my wife is the normal rice and peas cook but I enjoyed doing this one. It went down well and most importantly my wife enjoyed it. Thanks very much for posting it.

    • Great! It’s nice to mix it up a little. 🙂

  11. For a variation, try replacing turmeric with curry powder, or both!

    • Love that idea!

  12. Just made it to go with the South African Bobotie I made earlier. It was delicious and I am keeping this recipe. Thank you for sharing!

    • The perfect side to go with bobotie!! So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  13. this is so delish!!! i have made it 5 times at least
    question – my rice always takes almost 1.5 hours to cook (brown long grain) and its never really fluffy
    am i doing something wrong?

    • Hi! 1.5 hours for brown rice is too long. Does it take that long because the water hasn’t evaporated or because the rice is not tender? If you still have water after 50 minutes, your pot is too small. If the rice is still hard and you are using the correct amount of water, your pot is too big. What size pot are you using for this recipe?

  14. Hi! Would you use a 1.5 quart or 4 quart pot for this amount of rice? Or would you use a different size pot? Thanks!

    • 4 quart would be great!

  15. I can not stop eating this rice! I’m eating it for breakfast!! Yum! And my toughest little critic said: “It’s delicious!!” – Hooray!

    • Hooray!! So good for you!

  16. This was so very delicious! My husband, who not a big fan of rice, just devoured this dish. So easy to make! I look forward to using this flavorable rice in other dishes such as paella and adding to soups. Really excellent!

    • Terrific! Thanks for the comment, Lois!

  17. A big thank you! I needed inspiration today for an easy dinner tonight and you came through. This rice with your chicken adobo and a roasted veg or two will do nicely! I love using turmeric any way I can – so good for us. Can’t wait for the vegetable paella recipe to come. No pressure though!

    • Now that is an awesome, healthful dinner. So glad I could help even a smidge. Thank you, Lori!

  18. I made this last night for an easy Sunday dinner. I did the roasted veggie suggestion as our side. Well it was a hit. My younger son (7) asked for more and begged me to send it to school today. Yay, thanks this is a keeper.

    • Seriously?! How amazing is that? I am so happy to hear that. Thank you, Nicole!

  19. Just moved to Abu Dhabi. Having a hard time adjusting the grocery stores. This recipe looks like one that will be a cinch for me here, not to mention my 22 month old will devour! Thanks for posting!!!

    • That’s exciting, Ginny! Can’t say that I can be of any help with grocery shopping in Abu Dhabi, but I’m glad this is a recipe you can work with!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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