Parsi Brown Rice

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Parsi cuisine is one of those cuisines that really need to be spoken about more. For, it is a warm and loving food culture, just like its people who make the world a happier place with their charming and witty demeanor. This Parsi Brown Rice is just that. It’s a humble rice dish, but is aromatic and perfectly golden with a faint sweet tinge of the caramelized onions in it.

parsi brown rice served on a white plate with dal in a bowl kept on the top side and text layovers.

Parsi Brown Rice, A Memoir

The first time I got a chance to get acquainted with the celebrated Parsi Brown Rice was in my cooking school. What a wonderful time that was – just cooking, learning new recipes, techniques, scoring well in tests and so much more. That was also the time when I majorly cooked in college, and occasionally at home.

I can also clearly recall our food and nutrition professor telling us that this specific rice preparation has a brown hue to it. This brown color is due to the caramelization of sugar and onions, and is a distinct feature of this dish.

Along with the Parsi Brown Rice, we were also taught the Dhansak, which makes for a wow combination along with this special rice. Since then, I had become a complete fan of this cuisine. So much that I wanted my family to have a taste of it.

I couldn’t make it possible for the longest time as my folks at home never ventured in any other cuisines. They were always contended with the regular South Indian, Goan, Maharashtrian and Punjabi fares. Until recently, where I actually got a chance to make this Parsi Brown Rice for them. And I’m glad, they liked it too.  

More On This Recipe

You must’ve gotten an idea by now that this Parsi Brown Rice recipe too is an adaptation from my cooking school notes. Since I’m usually on the lookout for easier and simple cooking methods, I really consider this recipe too as a super easy and fuss-free method of making this dish.

While on the face of it you may think that the recipe is made with brown rice. But that is not the case. The recipe is so called due to the color of the rice being a light golden brown which happens due to the caramelization of sugar.

Basmati rice, whole spices, onions and sugar are mainly what you need to make this Parsi Brown Rice. The spices make this rice dish fragrant like its other counterparts Jeera Rice, Saffron Rice, Veg Pulao or Ghee Rice. However, the flavor is still different in this Brown Rice.

As mentioned earlier, the Parsi Brown Rice has sweet undertones due to the presence of sugar and onions in it. But instead of caramelizing the sugar separately, I do it with the onions itself. Saves on some more time.

The ultimate pairing is known to be of this Parsi Brown Rice and a comforting Dhansak. But I tried it with a Parsi dal as well, and that too was delightful. The mild dal goes really well with the sweet and aromatic rice.

If you are opting for this rice-dal combination, you can also add a potato roast or a spicy patio as an accompaniment to complete the meal.

Why This Recipe Works

This dish with solid Persian influences is subtle on your face, but within holds a complex flavor profile that intertwines perfectly with your palate. Just like other dishes of this versatile cuisine. You may not have tasted something so unique, yet simple, all at once.

Next, how can I not mention the ease with which this Parsi Brown Rice gets done. Whether you are a skilled cook or an amateur, there’s nothing so difficult in this recipe that you will end up racking your brains over.

You just have to make sure that the caramelization process is on point, because that is the USP of this dish. The onions should be nice and golden, and not burn!

It’s all and sundry friendly! Becomes a hit with both kids and adults alike because of its lovely flavors.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Parsi Brown Rice

Preparation

1. Measure all the ingredients required and keep ready for the rice.

ingredients measured and kept ready for the parsi brown rice.

2. Rinse 1 cup basmati rice 3 to 4 times in water.

rinsing basmati rice in water.

3. Soak the basmati rice in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes.

soaking basmati rice in water.

4. After 20 to 30 minutes, drain all of the water from the rice and keep aside.

drained basmati rice.

Make Parsi Brown Rice

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a thick-bottomed pot.

heating ghee in a thick bottomed pot.

6. Add 1 inch cinnamon, 2 to 3 green cardamoms, 2 to 3 cloves and 2 to 3 whole black peppercorns. You can also add 1 tej patta.

cinnamon, green cardamoms, cloves and whole black peppercorns added to the hot ghee in the pot.

7. Fry on low heat till the spices turn fragrant.

frying whole spices in the pot.

8. Add 1 medium-sized sliced onion – about ½ cup sliced onions.

sliced onion added to the pot.

9. Stir and sauté the onions till they turn translucent and are softened.

frying onions in the pot.

10. Now, add ½ teaspoon sugar.

sugar added to the pot.

11. Stir well to mix.

mixing sugar with onions in the pot.

12. Continue frying the onions till they caramelize or get browned. The sugar will also caramelize. Keep stirring in between to ensure even browning.

frying onions till they caramelize.

13. When the onions are caramelized, quickly take out some onions and reserve for garnishing.

They will have a sweet taste and will be a little sticky due to the caramelization of the sugar as well.

caramelized onions in the pot.

14. Add the drained basmati rice.

drained basmati rice added to the pot.

15. Gently stir.

stirring the rice in the pot.

16. Pour 1.5 to 2 cups water or as required.

water poured in the pot.

17. Stir and mix well.

water mixed well with the rice and other ingredients in the pot.

18. Add salt as required and stir to mix.

adding salt to the pot.

19. Cover tightly, and cook till the rice is fully done and all the water is absorbed.

cooking the rice in a covered pot.

20. Check once or twice in between, when the rice is cooking.

cooking parsi brown rice in the pot.

21. If the water is all absorbed and the rice is not cooked completely, then add a few tablespoons of hot water.

cooking parsi brown rice in the pot.

22. Don’t stir as you don’t want to break the rice grains. Cover and cook the rice for 2 to 3 minutes more.

cooking the rice in a covered pot.

23. Lastly, gently fluff the rice and garnish with the reserved caramelized onions.

cooked parsi brown rice garnished with reserved caramelized onions.

24. Serve Parsi Brown Rice with veg dhansak, patio or parsi dal.

parsi brown rice served on a white plate with a spoon and parsi dal kept in a bowl on the top left side.

FAQs

I have an Instant Pot? Can I make this dish in it?

Yes, of course you can cook this in an Instant Pot.

Is it possible to store this rice?

The best thing to do is to have it immediately and I really won’t suggest you to store it. If you have leftovers, refrigerate. But make sure to finish it in a day.

What other rice variety can I use to make this?

You could use any other variety of fragrant rice that is non-sticky or long grained rice. You can also use brown rice. In this case, it will more time to cook. Adjust the quantity of water too accordingly.

More Rice Recipes To Try!

Please be sure to rate this recipe in the recipe card below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

parsi brown rice served on a white plate.

Parsi Brown Rice

This Parsi Brown Rice is a flavorful rice dish made with basmati rice, whole spices, sugar and onions. It is fragrant and perfectly golden with a faint sweet tinge of the caramelized onions in it.

5 from 6 votes

Prep Time 5 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Soaking Time 20 mins

Total Time 40 mins

  • Soak the basmati rice in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 to 30 minutes, drain the water from the soaked rice. Set the rice aside.

  • Heat oil or ghee in a thick bottomed pot. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. You can also add 1 tej patta. Fry the whole spices on a low heat till they get fragrant.

  • Add the sliced onions. Stir and fry the onions till they get translucent and are softened.

  • Now add sugar and stir. Continue frying the onions till they caramelize or get browned.

  • The sugar will also caramelize. Keep on stirring in between to ensure even browning.

  • When the onions have got browned, quickly remove some onions for garnishing. They will have sweet taste and will be a little sticky due to the caramelization of sugar.
  • Add the rice and gently stir. Pour 1.5 to 2 cups water or as required. Add salt and stir.

  • Cover tightly and let the rice cook till done and all the water is absorbed.

  • Check once or twice when the rice is cooking.

  • If the water is all absorbed and the rice is not cooked completely, then add a few tablespoons of hot water.

  • Don’t stir as you don’t want to break the rice grains. Cover and cook the rice for 2 to 3 minutes more.

  • Serve Parsi Brown Rice garnished with the fried onions with dhansak, patio or dal.

  • You can make this recipe with any variety of non-sticky rice or even long grained rice. 
  • If making the recipe with brown rice, you will need to add more water. 
  • Easily scale the recipe to halve or double it.

Nutrition Facts

Parsi Brown Rice

Amount Per Serving

Calories 289 Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Value*

Fat 5g8%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 4g

Sodium 403mg18%

Potassium 143mg4%

Carbohydrates 55g18%

Fiber 2g8%

Sugar 2g2%

Protein 5g10%

Vitamin A 2IU0%

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%

Vitamin B6 1mg50%

Vitamin C 3mg4%

Vitamin E 2mg13%

Vitamin K 1µg1%

Calcium 41mg4%

Vitamin B9 (Folate) 12µg3%

Iron 1mg6%

Magnesium 25mg6%

Phosphorus 84mg8%

Zinc 1mg7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Parsi Brown Rice recipe post from the blog archives first published in July 2013 has been republished and updated on 3 August 2022.


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