The wonderful thing about turmeric is that, once you’ve determined to use to it, there is no going back. It is, quite unapologetically, present. Yellow. Bright. Even in the tiniest of uses, there was never a moment where, like an accidental truth, it could be taken back. The most ironic part of it all is that it’s often hard to tell just what that turmeric did (aside from adding a perfect pop of color, of course). Does it add bitterness, warmth, aroma? And yet, if you went without the mystery, you would intuit a certain missing something.
I find it so metaphorical, the canary-colored umph that turmeric adds to our food. Maybe we all add a little something to whatever we touch, even if it seems imperceptible. Perhaps it is part of the human condition that we often have to accept certain parts of ourselves that others might deem undesirable. In fact, I wonder if, perchance, we might all benefit from apologizing a little less for whatever we bring to a given situation.
I’m getting carried away from our main focus, though: this rice. I concocted the recipe at the tail end of a fortnight-long stretch of negative degree weather (the real kind, where it reaches negative double digits and makes threats that could wreak havoc on your favorite food dork’s engine battery…bleh!). I invited my two favorite people over for a comfort food night and we devoured this rice alongside a couple of salads and some sweet potatoes roasted in maple syrup and harissa.
The weather warmed up shortly afterward, but we had already found our souls soothed by the comforting aroma of this perfectly spiced basmati rice bursting with sweet currants, crunchy almond slices, and scallions. It could’ve been the games we made up to play, or the laughter that curled me up in a ball on the floor snorting and gasping for oxygen (I’m not proud), or the movies we watched until late in the night…but it also could’ve been the community we created over a simple, unapologetically flavorful meal. Regardless, we were changed for the better.
Aromatic Basmati Rice with Currants and Almonds
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne
3 tbsp dried currants
2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
1 scallion, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
In a large saucepan, combine basmati rice, stock, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally until the stock has absorbed and the rice is fluffy and fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Stir in currants and almonds. Transfer rice mixture to serving dish and garnish with sliced scallion. Serve.