Yield: 4-5 servings
1. In a large pot or tea kettle, bring 3 cups of water to a slow boil.
2. In another large pot, fry onions in oil on medium high heat, adding salt, cardamom and cumin. Stir until the spices coat the onions. Cook until glassy, but not quite caramelized, stirring as needed. Remove the onions when they are ready, reduce heat, then fry raisins in the same manner, adding more oil if needed. Be careful not to burn the raisins, as they have a high sugar content. When the raisins have puffed up, remove them and set aside with the onions.
3. Rinse rice in room temperature water, so as to remove any excess starch. Let as much water drain off the rice before lightly frying in about 2 tablespoons oil. This will give the rice a toasted and nutty flavor. In a small cup, bloom your saffron in 1/2 cup of water and set aside. Add the other 2 ½ cups of hot water to the rice, use a spoon to make sure no rice is sticking to the pot. Salt your water to taste.
4. Once the rice and water are simmering add onions, raisins, and saffron water. Make sure to get all the threads into the rice. Stir until onions, raisins, and saffron are fully incorporated. Cover with lid just slightly off kilter so steam can slowly waft away. Slowly steam the rice for 5-10 minutes or until desired textured is reached. Be careful not to over stir the rice as basmati is fragile when cooked, and will break apart.
Serve in your favorite bowl, and garnish with a few threads of dried saffron.
Optional, garnish with toasted almond, pistachio, or pine nuts.
For a more subtle flavor, you can substitute the cumin and cardamom for coriander. Use yellow or white onion, as red onions will distract from the saffron's vibrant color. You can use black cardamom or the more popular green cardamom.