The Secret Ingredient That Will Make Your Rice So Much Better

Cooked white rice

Rice is a staple ingredient that’s known for its versatility. Maybe it’s a rice bowl chock full of meat and veggies, a rice casserolecrispy rice for salads or a go-with for stir fry—or something completely different. As a side dish, rice is great served plain with butter or cooked with (and served with) an assortment of proteins and vegetables.

And if you’re looking to try something different, try adding grated carrots. We came across a carrot rice recipe on @justinkaarthur’s Instagram page that has already garnered over 225,000 views. It seems like a simple addition, but I was curious to know how the veggie could impart flavor. Many cultures add carrots to the rice, but this seemed like a very specific way to incorporate the veggie with rice. To find out if the rice was as good as it looked on Instagram, I gave it a try at home.

Related: The Super Smart Viral Paper Towel Trick We Wish We’d Known About Sooner

View the original article to see embedded media.

How Do You Make Carrot Rice?

The only ingredient that you might not have in your kitchen cabinet or fridge is basmati rice, which is the (second) star of this dish. If you’re not familiar with this rice variety, it’s a long-grain rice traditionally used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. It’s known for its aroma and slightly nutty flavor. What I like about basmati rice is that it’s a pretty foolproof rice to cook (especially if you’re bad at it) because it always turns out light and fluffy.

Ingredients for Carrot Rice

Back to the carrot rice recipe. You’ll need: 5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 grated carrot, 1/2 onion diced, 2 cups of basmati rice, 3 cups of water, 1 chicken stock cube and salt to taste. Rinse the rice several times under cold water until the water runs clear. This method removes excess starch and helps get that fluffy result. Set that aside.

How to Cook Carrot Rice

Start by washing, peeling and grating a carrot. I used 1 medium-length carrot. Next, dice half of a small onion. Set those aside.

Heat the oil on medium-high in a medium-large pot. Add the carrot and onion, and fry in the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning. Next, add the rinsed rice and stir to combine with the vegetables, scraping down the sides of the pot to make sure that everything is combined. Stir for about 5 minutes (I stopped at about 3 minutes 30 seconds to avoid burning).

The recipe says to add the 3 cups of water, then add the stock cube and salt once the rice starts boiling. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, then cover it with the lid and cook on low for about 15 minutes. (The foil helps to keep the moisture in while cooking.)

Related: The Secret Ingredient for Making Jarred Pasta Sauce Taste Like It Came From an Italian Restaurant

What I Thought About the Carrot Rice

I really wanted to love this, but the flavor simply fell flat. The basmati flavor was still prevalent, but despite frying the carrots and onion, the flavors didn’t pop. I didn't even taste any of the expected sweetness of the carrots. That said, the color of the rice was beautiful with the slightly caramelized onions and bright orange hue of the carrots.

What’s interesting about the recipe is that the Instagram video shows Chef Justin pouring an orange liquid from a blender into the pot, but commenters (and myself) were stumped as to what that was. This mystery ingredient wasn’t identified in his recipe. I’m thinking that he might have blended the 3 cups of water with the stock cube.

I do like the low prep and cook times, the simplicity of the steps and rather inexpensive ingredients. Carrots are also a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, so it’s a smart addition for parents trying to get extra nutrients in for themselves or the kiddos.

I do think this rice is an excellent starting point for Middle Eastern-inspired rice. Just add raisins, chopped apricots and pistachios. Maybe next time I’ll add garlic or swap the water for chicken stock. In the meantime, I’m going to use the rice as a side to my chicken kabobs.

Up next: The Secret Ingredient for Making Salmon That Tastes Like It Came From a Restaurant