How to Cook Middle Eastern-Style Rice

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In most areas of the Middle East, cooking rice is an art form. Rice has the role of forming the filling in many dishes, making the meat and vegetables stretch. But in many Middle Eastern cultures, rice is as important as bread, taking the position as the most important grain. Middle Eastern rice is always prepared fluffy, never sticky like risotto or sushi rice. It can include a variety of ingredients that vary by region, but most Middle Eastern rice dishes are made from basmati rice and contain garlic, olive oil, raisins, pine nuts and meat.

Heat the 2 tsp. olive oil in the saucepan over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the 1 cup chopped onion, 3 tbsp. pine nuts and 2 minced garlic cloves. Sauté until the onion is translucent and the garlic begins to pop in the pan.

Add the 1 cup uncooked basmati rice, 2 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. ground turmeric and 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper and sauté for five minutes or until the rice begins to turn translucent on the ends.

Stir in the chicken stock and the 1/2 cup raisins. Cover the pot and allow the rice and ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the 1 1/2 lbs. cooked turkey or lamb, 30 oz. chickpeas or black beans and season the rice with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to stand, covered, for five minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and serve it hot.