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Thread: Settle this basmati rice debate for me!

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Red face Settle this basmati rice debate for me!

    I'm sure someone can put to rest the debate DBF and I had last night about restaurant-prepared basmati rice. After a totally hectic day we decided to scrap cooking and go out for indian food. So we're sitting there eating our food and DBF asks if I know what the little seeds in the rice are. I say I'm not 100% certain, but that I think they're cumin seeds. He looks thoughtful for a moment, then says he thinks they're fenugreek seeds. (At this point it takes all my will power not to choke on my saag paneer as I would never have imagined the words, "I believe they're fenugreek seeds," coming out of his mouth. He's eager and willing to eat anything, but doesn't express much interest in preparation, and I would have wagered he'd never heard of fenugreek.) So then we each tried eat just a seed, but couldn't definitively settle this. I forgot to look in any of my cookbooks when we got home, but now I really want to know....What the heck are those little seeds?
    I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows. -Henry David Thoreau

  2. #2
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    Althea,

    It could of been a variety of seeds. I cook Indian quite often and have used various seeds in my rice (i.e. fennel seeds, cumin, mustard seeds).

    Fenugreek seeds are of a mustard color, slightly flat, and can be bitter if overused. I don't think I've ever seen them used in a rice dish, but that's not to say they wouldn't be. Most recipes I've used them in call for them to be ground (if very small quantities, due to the bitterness that can produce).

    HTH!
    Adele

    My Blog - http://passioknit.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
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    I know what they're not, and they're not fenugreek. Fenugreek looks hmmm...different. Not a smooth oval shape, more multifaceted, and a yeallowish color, not stripedy like the seeds in the food. Those are either fennel seed, cumin or caraway. I can't remember which. But they are not fenugreek.
    "It covers your bread like a stinkyfishy tarp
    I know it isn't butter
    But I can't believe it's carp!"

    Kenny Blankenship and Vic Romano, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge

  4. #4
    I believe the seeds are cardomom seeds. Cardomon is used a lot in Indian cooking and I have seen some in rice at an Indian restaurant. Cumin seeds are pretty small maybe a little larger than a leaf of thyme. However, I do not know what fenugreek seeds look like. Hope this helps!

  5. #5
    Could it be Quinoa? I know that Quinoa is often added to rice dishes.
    Life is Good

  6. #6
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    lol, i love your story! i, too, would be flabberghasted if SO made a similar remark, and completely speechless if i heard the word "fenugreek" depart from his lips. it might even make me wonder what he'd been up to when i wasn't looking the indian restaurant we go to uses a mixture of seeds, too. why not ask the restaurant? that's what i'd do if i really needed to know.
    So many recipes, so little time

    Suzanne

  7. #7
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    I agree - ask someone at the restaurant the next time you're there, or give them a call!

    My vote is with mustard or onion seeds. Can't wait to hear the outcome of this one!

    Lynne


    To err is human, to forgive, canine.
    -- Anonymous

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    I loved the story of the dining experience, too! Very cute!

    I forwarded the details to a friend who really enjoys Indian food. She said of the two choices, she would say cumin.

    That, of course, does not include any of the other options other folks have suggested. I like the idea of calling the restaurant and just asking them.

  9. #9
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    Thanks all! I can't believe I didn't ask the waiter, since I know the capacity DBF and I have to get obsessed about totally random things. It's really quite ridiculous.

    Anyhow, after spending a few minutes studying the pictures on cook's thesaurus and eating my leftovers for lunch, I think they're either fennel or cumin. I'm actually thinking fennel, which I completely forgot about last night. Why I remembered ajowan and forgot fennel is beyond me. I think I'll him it's fennel, so we can both be wrong! Thanks again!
    I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows. -Henry David Thoreau

  10. #10
    i would say they are cumin, as well. especially since they are in a rice dish. toasted/lightly fried cumin seeds are a common addition to pilau, as are peas.

    fenugreek is pretty rarely used in its seed form in indian cooking (we call it methi). in fact, the leaves are more commonly used than this is. it looks alot like yellow dal seeds (it's a mustard colored seed) whereas cumin is long and brown.

    HTH!

  11. #11
    here's a page that has a picture of fenugreek seeds (scroll pretty far down)

    http://www.foodsubs.com/SpiceInd.html

    and here are cumin seeds
    http://www.foodsubs.com/SpiceUniv.html#cumin

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    My vote is for fennel or cumin. I probably couldn't tell them apart by looking, but I definitely could by taste.

  13. #13
    I would be stunned too if my DH suggested something like this about a meal. I don't think he knows anything about spices except the basics - cinnamon and nutmeg. My SIL used to work in an Indian restaurant a few years ago and for some reason it comes back to me that they used fennel seeds in their rice. However, different restaurants probably have different recipes so these could be entirely different. I would just call them and save my sanity - it would drive me crazy too until I found out.
    All That's Left Are The Crumbs

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  14. #14
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    Our favorite Indian restaurant seasons their rice with cardamom pods, but those are much larger than cumin/ fennel/ fenugreek seeds. I would imagine your rice probably contained cumin seeds. So funny your DBF new about fenugreek! I'm impressed.

  15. #15
    I vote for cumin seeds and by the way, thanks for making me hungry for Indian food.....

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