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I often serve rice as a side dish, but this recipe for Easy Cilantro Lime Rice with Cardamom Seeds is a real game changer for me. With just a couple of added steps, your side dish goes from boring, to something to write home about! It’s great with pork chops, as you see pictured below, but lately, I’ve also been loving it with fish.
Gently toasting the rice in butter before it steams – which at the same time causes the flavor compounds in a couple of fat-soluble spices to bloom, and then garnishing the dish with the vibrant fresh acidity of lime juice and the bright herbal flavor note of cilantro, makes this side dish shine.
The Two Pivotal Steps that Make Easy Cilantro Lime Rice Spectacular!
1. Toast the Rice and Spices
One thing I learned from Indian Cooking is that many spices and herbs have flavor compounds that bloom and develop in fat. They are “fat soluble”, and once you add heat to that herb or spice plus fat, the spices and herbs’ flavors change, and intensify. That’s what makes certain dishes taste so ALIVE!
Even when you toast rice alone in butter, you’ll get a nutty aroma, as the butter begins to brown. It’s delightful! So just imagine what fat and heat can do for rice with spices! It does beautiful flavorful things, my friends.
2. Add Acid and Herbs at the End to Add Even More Flavor!
There are certain flavor elements to dishes that don’t survive heat very well, and those two flavor notes are acids (like vinegars or citrus juices) and leafy green herbs (herbs like cilantro, or basil, or parsley). So in this dish, we add the lime juice and the parsley and a little fresh jalapeño at the end, to add a bit of zing.
You’ll find that these two pivotal steps take a side dish from boring to thrilling! Remember, you can use these principles in many recipes that you cook.
- Wake spices and woody herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) up by sautéing them in fat.
- Make a dish more vibrant after cooking by adding acids, or leafy herbs (which are water soluble).
Cardamom is a fruit, that grows in India, that most of us in the US think of as a spice. It’s found in the spice section of our grocery store. You can buy it where the dried seeds or already ground, or buy the unground seeds, which is probably the most expensive way to buy it. Personally, I try to find and purchase the whole pods of cardamom, which are generally green. (The white pods have less flavor.) I find them at Whole Foods in the bulk spice section, and I also ran across them once, quite unexpectedly, at World Market. I’m sure you could find the whole pods in any Indian grocery store, or at any spice specialty store. But the EASIEST way to obtain them is to use my handy dandy affiliate link, which you’ll find right below the recipe card.
To use the cardamom pods, I smash the paper-like pod on my cutting board with the side of my chef’s knife, and then extract the little seeds from the broken pods. There are usually 10-12 seeds in a pod, so to make this recipe, I smash two green seed pods, and use all their little seeds.
Cardamom’s flavor is complex: you’ll taste notes that are piney, fruity, citrusy, and almost menthol-like. I absolutely love it.
The Recipe for Easy Cilantro Lime Rice with Cardamom
Easy Cilantro Lime Rice with Cardamom Seeds
Reminiscent of Chipotle's Cilantro Lime Rice, but BETTER, this recipe for Easy Cilantro Lime Rice gives two pivotal steps to optimize flavor.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- all the seeds from 2 whole smashed cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped finely, stems and leaves separated
- 1 cup of long-grain rice (jasmine or basmati)
- 1/2 of a jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
- juice of 1/2 lime; plus more, to taste
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat Add the oil, then stir in the cardamom seeds, onion powder, garlic powder, and cilantro stems, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice, and stir it for another 30 seconds, lightly toasting it.
- Add 1 1/2 cups water and the sea salt, and raise the heat to bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to bring everything in the pan to a simmer, and allow rice to cook covered, until all the water is absorbed: about 17 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and allow the rice to sit covered. It will continue steaming another 10 minutes.
- Fold in the cilantro leaves, the jalapeño, and the lime juice. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt or lime juice, as needed.
If you can't find whole cardamom pods, you'll use about 1/4 teaspoon of whole cardamom seeds.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 337mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 4g
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