Recipe: Garlic Basmati Rice with Pine Nuts

I’d like the record to state that I’m ready for a big hug.

It’s the end of summer, times are changing, and I’m ready for that love-filled feeling that comes with a smooshable hug. I see people doing it all the time – their bodies smiling as they pull to each other.

My husband still hugs me, which is the best kind of snuggle-hug I can ask for. But I want more. I want the kind of hug that can’t come from him. Or any person.

It’s the kind of hug that comes from taking a giant bite of garlic bread. It’s the cozy feeling I get as I methodically tear apart a tray of buttery garlic knots. But even that kind of hug seems so… ordinary. Today I want the extraordinary. Actually, every day I should want the extraordinary, but that’s something I’ll need to work out with my life coach.

Enter Pakistan and an ambling line of garlic goodness.

This grand garlic is going into a heaping platter of Garlic Basmati Rice sprinkled with Toasted Pine Nuts. Each bite is unabashedly fragrant, completely garlicky, and a tad bit smoky (from those glorious, toasted pine nuts). While this dish can be found all over the southwest Asia, Laura Kelley of Silk Road Gourmet (from whom I’ve adapted this recipe) tells us the addition of cilantro makes this version especially Pakistani.

While I’ve only used a handful of cilantro, you could easily fold in the better part of a bunch for even more authentic flavor.

Serves 2-4


1 cup basmati rice
2 tbsp ghee (or butter)
1/2 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, (about a handful of leaves)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted


Let’s click on the stove and float away to Pakistan. Imagine yourself inside the cool walls of a Punjabi home.

Traditional mud & brick Punjabi home. Photo by Khalid Mahmood.

This is a dish for those crystal clear times when you know exactly what you deserve – and you don’t mind who knows it (or smells it, for that matter).

In a medium pot, fry up your chopped onion in either the ghee or butter until golden and soft.

Add on the crushed garlic and cook through until fragrant and translucent. Don’t skimp or your house won’t smell like the glorious hug that it should!

Stir in the rice and cook a few minutes to heat through. Then, splash on the stock and bring to a bubble over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 16 minutes, or until tender and fluffy.

Remove from heat, uncover, and let the rice steam dry for about 5 minutes.

Feel free to stick your face in that garlic steam. I did and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown, shaking or stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Scoop the rice on a platter and garnish with the pine nuts and as much cilantro as you’d like…

Good, glorious, soft, buttery, garlic delight!

Even grandma Martin went back for more.

Ava was too busy digging in to give us a smile.

Enjoy with a bright, shining spirit and a window into the sky.

Faiz Mahal Palace, Khairpur, Pakistan. Photo by Arsalan R. Kazi.

Thanks, Pakistan!

P.S. Have you entered our weekly giveaway? This garlic rice would look great in the potluck baker!

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  1. How delicious…and basic …good comfort food…I could eat that for breakfast dinner and supper….or…breakfast lunch and dinner…

    PSToday is the feast day of St Stephen of Hungary…interesting character…not sure what this has to do with Pakistan…

  2. It sounds great and here’s some music to go with it. It features a stringed instrument called a Saz and it was recorded in Pasni, a tiny port on Pakistan’s seacoast.

    About the cilantro… there used to be a restaurant in Queens that featured a tawa. That’s a Pakistani invention and it’s like a huge wok. The meat is thrown on, and then ground spices, and at the end fresh herbs, including cilantro.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Cilantro has really grown on me these last couple of years. I used to avoid it. Now I really appreciate it.

  3. Beautiful post, Sasha!

    The dish has never looked lovelier!

    It is a family favorite of ours as well!


    • Sasha Martin says:

      We just ate it again tonight. It’s going into the “very often” rotation pile for sure! Thank you so much for suggesting I try it, Laura :)

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