Simple Basmati Rice

Rice is a staple in any South Asian cuisine. It is cheap and versatile. The following recipe is a very basic rice recipe. It is easy to make, fragrant and most of all delicious. Later on, in this blog, I will show variations of this rice recipe.

Simple Basmati Rice
Serves: 2-3 Prep: 25 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

~1 cup Basmati rice*
~1 small onion
~2 cups of warm water
~1/2 stick cinnamon
~3-4 whole cloves
~pinch of salt

*You can usually find basmati rice in your local grocery store, in the ethnic aisle. If not, be sure to visit your local Indian/Pakistani store.

1.) Wash the rice under cold water and than let it soak in a bowl of water, for about 20 minutes.

2.) While the rice is soaking, you can dice the onion and place into a lightly oiled pan. (I use a ~3 quart saute pan)

3.) After the rice is soaked, go ahead and lightly brown the onions on medium heat.

4.) After browning the onions, add the 2 cups of warm water. Also add the cinnamon, cloves and salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat.

5.) Once water has boiled, drain the rice from the bowl and add to the pan. Again bring the water to a boil. Boil for one minute. Immediately turn the heat down to a low simmer. Cover the pan.

6.) After 10-15 minutes, turn off the stove. Let rice stand for five minutes. Fluff the rice a bit, serve and enjoy.



South Asian Cooking Basics: Garam Masala


Garam Masala means "hot spice" in Hindi & Urdu. Hot being because the spices are actually roasted before they are ground together.

Garam Masala is a very basic spice mix. It is so easy to make and is very versatile. You can add this spice to almost any Indian/Pakistani dish. A little bit goes a long way.

Garam Masala

yield- 1/4 cup Time:15 minutes

-1 Tb Cumin seeds
-1/2 Stick Cinnamon (broken into tiny pieces)
-1Tb whole black Peppercorn
-1Tb Coriander seeds
-1/4 teaspoon ground Ginger

1.) Measure first 4 ingredients into a skillet.
2.) Turn heat to medium, and roast spices for 5-7 minutes. They will turn a golden-brown color.
3.) Let spices cool.
4.) Add the roasted spices to your spice grinder. Add the ginger and grind all the spices together into a fine powder.
5.) Voila, you have your mix. You can store this in a container, in a cool and dark place. I store mine in a cabinet on the bottom shelf. This should last you about 3 months.







South Asian Cooking Basics: Equipment

Photo Credit: cwf

Here's a basic list of equipment in every South Asian's kitchen:

  • Wok, or deep frying pan
  • Skillet, small and large
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Food processor, small
  • Blender
  • Basic Stock Pot
  • Coffee grinder, for grinding spices
  • Mortar & Pestle



South Asian Cooking Basics: Pantry & Fridge

Here's a basic list of items found in a South Asian's pantry:

  • Basmati Rice
  • Atta, Indian bread flour
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Chickpeas, canned
Here's a basic list of items found in a South Asian's fridge:

  • Yogurt
  • Ginger
  • Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Garlic-Ginger paste, just a simple combination of garlic and ginger, blended until soft
  • Tomatoes



South Asian Cooking Basics: Spices

Photo Credit: jo-h
Clockwise from the top: Coriander, Mustard Seed, Cinnamon, Cayenne, Ginger, Turmeric, Cumin(in the middle)

My husband always likes to joke that his ancestors traveled around an entire Continent in order to obtain spices from my ancestors. And what do we know, the world of cooking was changed forever.

Spices are a big part of South Asian cooking. Almost every dish has some sort of spice that adds a whole new element to the overall taste. Here is a basic list of spices in every South Asian household:

  • Cumin, ground or seeds
  • Coriander, ground or seeds
  • Cinnamon, usually sticks
  • Turmeric, powder
  • Cayenne pepper, powder
  • Ginger, powder
  • Bay leaf,- never eaten
  • Cloves, whole-never eaten
  • Cardamom,green, in pods or ground
  • Mustard Seeds, whole
  • Fennel Seeds, whole
  • Peppercorn, black, whole
Many South Asians also make a spice blend called Garam Masala (Hot Spice). I will post a recipe of this mix, later this week.



Copyright Info

Text and Photography Copyright © Aisha Hoffman 2010, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

Please express written permission to in order to use photos or text.

Recipes may be reproduced without permission, but must be linked back to this blog for credit. Many of these recipes are the hard earned work of my mother. :-)

Creative Commons License
SpicyHabibti by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.


Regions of South Asia

For the purpose of this blog, I intend to focus primarily on cuisines from Pakistan and India. Below, I have posted maps of the two different countries. I hope they serve a visual resource as I post about food from the different cities, and areas.


Contact Me

I welcome questions and comments from my readers!

You can contact me at

You can also follow me on twitter at Spicyhabibti

I look forward to hearing from you. :-)



About Me

Hello Dear Readers,

Thank-you for stopping by my humble blog. I'm very excited to start this new journey with each and every one of you. To start off, let me tell you a little about myself.

My name is Aisha, and for as long as I can remember, I've always been interested and fascinated by food. I was lucky to grow up in a home where my parents, especially my mom, fostered my love of cooking. No matter how terrible my dishes were, my parents kept encouraging me.

My parents were both born and raised in Pakistan. They moved to America, met each other, married and settled down in the suburbs. My entire childhood is laced with memories of parties and celebrations filled with delicious Pakistani food. Whether it was fried samosa, chicken tikka, or gulab jamen, my mother would make each dish with love and careful attention.

When my husband and I were married, I spent the better part of that first year frantically calling my mother on cooking advice. She was patient enough to calm me down and give me tips that I still use today.

Now that we have moved out west, away from our parents, my fondness and longing for South Asian food has grown into something fierce. I was lucky enough to marry a man who loves South Asian cuisine, but not so lucky to move to an area lacking said cuisine.

So I've decided to start this blog as a way to pay homage to my mother & her recipes, my parent's culture, and to be able to share all of this with you!

Thanks again for stopping by. Bon Appetit!

Pakistan 1988
My mother on the left, I'm in the middle w/my grandmother. One of the only photos I have with my "dadee."


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