One of my favorite things in the world to eat is a really good basmati rice pilaf. I don’t even need sauces or meat or beans, I’m content just with the rice. In my world, a really good pilaf has tender but almost al dente grains, is not fluffy, and the grains don’t stick together. I have been trying forger to master this to no avail.
This past week my parents have had guests visiting from Greece. They own a hotel in Zakinthos and the matriarch of the family is an amazing cook. Last night my parents had a party and my mother and Effie did all the cooking. Among the amazing menu of dolmades, spanakorizo, pitas, keftedes, kres kokinisto, loukanika, etc, was the rice pilaf of my dreams. Naturally, I cornered Effie and asked how she does it.
She said the secret was exact ingredients and a little maga (Greek for magic). She told me to coat the bottom of the pan with oil or butter or both, but she prefers butter. In the past I haven’t used as much oil but I’m hoping that’s the secret. She heats the oil and sautées one cup of rice til it gets a little color. As she sautées, she adds salt and pepper and her seasonings, like a boullion cube. Then the other important part is 2 cups water. In other words, no matter how much rice, the ratio MUST remain 1:2. The pilaf usually takes about ten minutes, but to check it periodically. The rice should be removed from heat until just before it’s at the desired bite and allowed to sit covered to finish the cooking process.
I’m going to try this out. Wish me luck!