Masala Bhath

2 cups basmati rice (washed under running water or in several changes of water)
1 tbsp coconut oil
5 pods green cardamom (crushed slightly but left whole)
5 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 large potato (cut into 1/2-inch dice)
1 large carrot (cut into 1/2-inch dice)
1/2 small head cauliflower (separated into small florets)
1 medium zucchini (cut into 1-inch strips)
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional –the goda masala has some heat)
2 tbsp goda masala (you can substitute with garam masala; see my recipe tips above for details on how to do that)
1 heaping tbsp coconut sugar (or jaggery, or regular sugar. Piloncillo, if you have some, is a fine replacement for jaggery)
1/4 cup coconut (grated. I don’t mean the dry shredded coconut you use for baking, but either freshly grated coconut, or grated coconut available in frozen packets. The coconut shreds have to be juicy, not dry)
1/4 cup cilantro (minced)
Salt to taste

Heat the oil. Add the cardamom, cloves and bay leaves and saute until the bay leaves start to change color and become lightly golden.

Add the potatoes and carrots and saute, stirring frequently, until the potatoes have a light brown crust.

Add the cauliflower and zucchini and continue sauteeing another couple of minutes.

Add the powdered spices–turmeric, coriander powder, cumin and goda masala–and saute for a minute to coat the spices with the oil and toast them.

Add the washed rice and stir until the rice begins to turn opaque.

Add 4 cups water to the rice, and add enough salt to make the water a bit saltier than you’d like your final dish to be.

Stir well, bring to a boil, then cover the rice with a tight-fitting lid. Let the rice cook over medium heat for five minutes, then lower the heat and continue cooking for 10 more minutes, never opening the lid once during cooking.

Turn off the heat and let the rice stand another 10 minutes. Open and sprinkle on the coconut and cilantro.

Serve hot or warm.