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Parsi caramelized brown rice in red and white skillet with bay leaves and cinnamon bark.
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5 from 5 votes

Parsi Brown Rice

A Parsi brown rice is a richly and simply spiced yet complexly flavored caramelized rice. This vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free recipe is easy, needing no more than 25 minutes to make, and it goes perfectly with dhansak or any vegetable dal.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course/Rice
Cuisine: Indian (Parsi/Zoroastrian)
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Parsi Brown Rice
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 224kcal




  • Wash the rice thoroughly in running water, then soak in a bowl with two inches of water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain before using.
  • Heat the oil in a large saute pan or skillet with a tight lid.
  • Add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and saute until the cumin and spices have slightly changed color and are aromatic.
  • Add the onion with ½ teaspoon of salt and a bit of ground black pepper and saute until the onion begins to brown.
  • Stir in the sugar. Stay by the stove at this time and stir until the sugar melts, browns and bubbles. You want it to caramelize, not burn, so make sure you turn the heat down if it starts to brown too fast.
  • Once the sugar has melted and browned and bubbled add the rice and stir it in. Saute a couple of minutes.
  • Pour in the water and add enough salt so the water tastes slightly saltier than you want the rice to be.
  • Bring the rice and water mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover with a tight lid and set your timer for 20 minutes.
  • At the end of 20 minutes turn off the heat but don't peek. Let the rice stand for another 10 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice grains with a fork and serve hot.


  • You can make this recipe with brown rice. Keep in mind that brown rice will take longer to cook. Add 5 cups of water and, after the water comes to a boil, cover and cook 40-45 minutes. I would increase the amount of sugar by a tablespoon.
  • To make the rice in an Instant Pot, set the IP to the saute function. Once you've added water and salt to the liner close the IP lid and select the "rice" function. You can let the pressure release naturally or force-release 10 minutes after cooking is done.
  • Make sure that the sugar caramelizes and turns brown and bubbly before adding the rice, to get the perfect flavor.
  • You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to four days. For longer storage spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet and flash freeze. Then portion it out and freeze in airtight containers or freezer bags and freeze.


Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg