Rice cooked in a broth or water with addition of spices is called a pilaf [pulao]. Biryani is very similar to a pilaf but has meat and vegetables added to it. One can cook as many versions of pilaf as there are grains of rice in this world!
This pilaf highlights the subtle sweetness and aroma of cardamom and can make an excellent base for rich meat and vegetable stews. —vegetarianirvana
tablespoon brown butter
cup finely diced onions
cup copped tomatoes
small bay leaves
Powdered cardamom from 3 large pods or 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom powder
Rinse and soak the Basmati Rice in warm water for half an hour. Then drain the water and set the rice aside at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile let's prepare the gravy which will flavor the cooking broth.
In a low-medium hot pan, melt 1 tablespoon brown butter and add the cumin seeds. When they turn a nutty brown add the onions. Saute on a low flame for a few minutes while constantly stirring. Don't let the onions get crispy. Now add the tomatoes and about 1/ 2 teaspoon of salt and continue sauteing for another 7-10 minutes on a low flame till the vegetables break down complelely and you have a thick tomato /onion paste. See picture.
You can use a different pan for the next steps or like I do use the same pan. I push the paste to the side and add the remaining brown butter. To this add in this order, the cloves. the bay leaves, the fennel and then the cardamom powder. Immediately add the drained rice and stir to coat with the butter and all the spices. Slowly incorporate the tomato/ onion paste into the rice and then add 1 and 3/4 cups of water [preferably warm]. Add salt to taste, the pepper powder and the raisins. mix everything well.
Now you can cook this in a rice cooker or cook in the same pot. If using the same pot, turn up the heat and wait till the broth starts bubbling, stir the rice once again and put a tight fitting lid on the pot and reduce the flame to low. The rice should take about 7 minutes to cook, depending on the brand of rice and the dimension of the pot. It is O K to do a quick check. Lift the lid slightly and if the broth has been absorbed, put the lid back and turn off the stove. Wait for another 5-7 minutes, then remove the lid and gently fluff up the rice. Serve.The flavor actually improves with time
You may want to fish out the cloves as they are spicy to the bite,