Friday, April 9, 2010

30. Basmati Rice - Thrown at Weddings

A certain grain is grown on every continent except Antarctica and it is the major source of food for almost half of the world's population. It is known for its mild taste and comfort-food qualities and can be a wonderful addition to almost any type of meal. When combined with vegetables or meat, it becomes an economical main dish. This grain is, of course, rice.

Rice-based societies exist in China, India and Indonesia; rice is such an important crop in these countries that it has influenced many beliefs. In Japan and Indonesia, for instance, rice has its own god while the Chinese devote a whole day during their new year to rice. Some Asians feel that rice is a link between heaven and earth and in India people believe that fertility and rice are linked. That belief has led to the tradition of throwing rice at weddings.

There are over 40,000 varieties of rice in the world but only a few are grown commercially. Most of us are familiar with rice types like long, medium and short grain, but there are also sweet, aromatics and arborios. The most common rice forms are rough, brown, regular milled white, parboiled and pre-cooked. Brown rice will stay fresher if refrigerated, but other rice does fine if kept sealed and dry in the pantry.

 The following rules will help guarantee success in cooking perfect rice regardless of the kind:

-Measure rice carefully and cover the cooking container tightly and do not peek.
 (The steam actually cooks the rice and if the lid is lifted too soon, it stops the process).
-Timing is important...make sure the rice is not over or undercooked.
-Fluff up the rice when it is finished being cooked to separate the grains.
-If the rice is too sticky, too much liquid was used. (exception, sticky rice)
-If a more separated grain is desired, sauté the rice in a small amount of margarine before     
   cooking, and then add water and continue as directed.
-Most rice does not need washing or rinsing (exception aromatics like Basmati)

While some people will actually eat raw rice mixed in with other ingredients, most cook it first. The easiest and most common way to prepare rice is to simply boil it in water. Broth, vegetable stock and even diluted fruit and vegetable juices may be substituted.

Basmati Rice is a fragrant or aromatic rice and one of my favorites. I have fixed this rice for years and it turns out light and fluffy every time. I discovered the correct timing for cooking it because I broke one of the rice rules...I peeked! If I had followed the printed directions, the rice would have been burned. All of the recipes given for Basmati rice indicate that it should be cooked for 5 to 10 minutes longer than my recipe; however, the picture below shows the rice perfectly cooked and tender.

*When this rice cooks, it will fill the room with the most amazing fragrance.

Diane's Basmati Rice

Measure 2 cups of rice into a strainer with small holes. Run cold water over the rice to remove all of the excess starch off of the grains. Use your hands to help move the rice around as it is being washed.Wash the rice three times. Put washed rice in a large pot and add enough cold water so that there is 1/2 inch of water above the rice level. Add 1 T oil, salt is optional. Turn heat on med-high  heat and boil until the water level is almost even with the rice level. Turn heat down to low, cover pot with lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Take pot off heat, and fluff up rice. It should have nice, separate grains and be tender.

Rice may be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container for a week. It freezes well. I often make extra rice to have on hand to add to a soup or another main dish. Rice is very low in fiber and is digested in about an hour.

Sticky Rice

Follow package directions. It may be used for sushi, side dishes and dessert recipes.

1 comment:

  1. Marian wrote: Rice was always a popular dish at our house. We, too, had the "no peek" rule. When I lived in Malaysia, I had a Chinese amah who did the cooking. However, she could not cook rice to my satisfaction because she always "peeked." My husband was fond of rice pudding, so I often made it for him with rice left over from a meal. I have found that if you want your soup or stew to be thickened, you can add a tablespoon of rice to the ingredients when you start cooking them.