Maneet Chauhan, owner of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, TN, judge on Chopped and Iron Chef, and James Beard Award-winner, loves basmati rice. “I cook with basmati rice a lot, that’s how I know good from bad,” she says, with a smile. According to Chauhan, “You cannot call a rice basmati if it is not grown in the Himalayan foothills. It’s the same concept as champagne. And you need to age basmati—white or brown—to get the best taste and deep, delicious aroma.”
The secret to cooking perfect basmati rice? “Treat the ingredient with respect,” she says. She recommends washing it very carefully before cooking to get the starch off, but do it gently so that you don’t break the grains.
Chauhan shared this recipe, below, which is not only easy to prepare, it’s absolutely delicious. You can find more irresistible recipes in her book, Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries (Cookbook Marketplace). Rice used to be considered a supporting player at mealtime, but it’s taking on a leading role, she says. “Take this salad, add a protein and you have a perfect meal.”
Basmati Kale and Pomegranate Salad
For the salad
1½ cups cooked Royal® Basmati Saffron Rice
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 cups chopped baby kale
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 watermelon radish (shaved thin)
For the dressing
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black peppercorn
1 squeeze lemon or orange juice
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix 1 cup water and the sugar until it is melted. Add mustard seeds and simmer until softened, about 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the syrup from the seeds. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bloomed seeds.
2. In a food processor pulse the shallot with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of reserved mustard seeds syrup, water, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt and orange juice until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust. Add additional olive oil or water to keep the mixture moving through the food processor.
Pour in a bowl and toss the salad ingredients together with the dressing just before serving.