During a recent trip to New Orleans with my husband, I had the most wonderful surprise at dinner one evening. My entrée was served with a side of popcorn rice. I had never heard of popcorn rice but instantly fell in love with the scent and taste of it! It is a variety of long-grain rice, grown in Louisiana, with a wonderful rich, nutty aroma and flavor that really does smell like popcorn. This variety is considered an artisan grain and is a hybrid of basmati rice, with the same texture. It even pairs well with curries and meat dishes. Popcorn rice is cooked in the same way as other rice varieties.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large sauce pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the cumin seeds. When they start to pop, add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick and green cardamom pods. After 30 seconds, add the onion and sauté until it turns translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Stir in the rice and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the salt, pepper and heated broth, and stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
4. Spray a baking sheet and a small ramekin with cooking spray.
5. Transfer one-fourth of the spiced rice to the ramekin. Gently press it with a spoon. Quickly invert the ramekin and unmold the rice cake onto the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the rice.
6. Just before serving, bake the rice cakes in the oven for 15 minutes. With a flat, wide, spatula, transfer them to dinner plates or serving platter.
1 cup popcorn rice
2 Tbs oil
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 green cardamom pods, smashed
2-inch piece cinnamon stick
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, warmed