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Fragrant Basmati and Almond Pilaf

“Oh my goodness, this is so good!” beamed a grateful dinner companion after a first bite of this wonderful rice. We think it is, indeed: fragrant, beautifully colored, and, well, ‘so good!’  The tender rice is enhanced with crispy fried onions and crunchy toasted almonds, making it a perfect side to any simple entrée, or stir in pieces of rotisserie chicken and some steamed peas or green beans for a complete meal.

This recipe will serve 4-6, but can be easily doubled for a crowd.

Fragrant Basmati and Almond Pilaf

2½ tbs. butter
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
½ tsp. turmeric
2½ cups basmati rice
5 cups vegetable stock
vegetable oil for frying
2 tbs. sliced almonds, toasted

Melt the butter in a large, shallow pot and add half of the onions and the garlic. Cook gently until soft and beginning to turn golden. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and turmeric, stirring for a minute or two. Tip in the rice and stir to coat the grains. Add the stock, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed and the rice is tender. Check seasoning.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the reserved onions and fry until crisp and brown. Set aside on paper towels.

To serve, discard the cinnamon stick and cloves, dish the pilaf into a serving dish and top with the fried onions and almonds.

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