Spices are tied in a bouquet garni so they're easy to remove after cooking. And the cheesecloth-wrapped bouquets, bundled in food-safe cellophane, are also good stocking stuffers on their own. Include these directions with each package of rice: Bring 3 cups water to a boil; add bouquet garni and 1 1/2 cups rice mixture, and cook 18 minutes or until rice and lentils are tender. Discard bouquet garni; stir 1/2 teaspoon salt into rice mixture.
1 teaspoon cardamom pods, toasted
16 whole cloves
8 black peppercorns
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, halved
4 cups uncooked basmati rice, divided
1 cup lentils, divided
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger, divided
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and divided
1 teaspoon white pepper, divided
How to Make It
To prepare bouquet garni, combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Divide mixture evenly among 4 packages of a double layer of (4-inch-square) cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely with kitchen twine.
Place 1 bouquet garni, 1 cup rice, 1/4 cup lentils, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper in each of 4 containers. Seal tightly.
Note: Nutritional analysis includes 1/2 teaspoon salt added for cooking.