Many years ago I visited Thailand and during a road trip came across a paddy field and asked to see how it was planted and to have a go myself. Shoes off, trouser leg rolled up and into the squishy muddy warm conditions, i saw the plant blade protected the rice and I planted it straight into the muddy field. What I realised was that the grains require plenty of water and heat. The job is back breaking. After doing the activity, I have always respected rice when I cook and serve it out to my family and guests. I ensure that every grain is used and eaten.
Serving curry and rice is a staple in any Gujarati Home. I grew up eating it accompanied with a vegetarian or meat curries, dal, chapatti or puri depending on what was going onto the plate.
Many people have their own methods of cooking it and I hear disaster stories from fellow cooks who can’t seem to perfect the method. So here are some facts and reasons for loving rice and respecting it.
Useful Fast facts:-
- Rice how it grows it’s a seed of a grass species Oryza sativa of which the rice is encased in a husk which is removed (brown rice) , it is then milled to give its distinctive white colour.
- Weather conditions – high rain fall and warm weather above 20C no more than 35-40C, requires 45 days of heat and sun, humid conditions.
- Process of growing rice – high labour intensive work that is back breaking, it involved planting the seed and managing the water system.
- Varieties of rice Long grain – basmati (meaning fragrant) is a variety of long, slender-grained aromatic rice and is the most popular in Indian cookery. It has a long grain and a nutty texture.
- Medium grain create a sticky texture perfect for risotto or sushi. Jasmin rice is a variety that is used in south east Asian cookery and has a distinctive pandan popcorn aromatic notes and flavours. After a few months the fragrance reduces dramatically and is best eaten as a new crop just freshly harvested.
- Rice flour is used to make puddings, thickening agent to name a few.
- India is the biggest exporter of Basmati rice overtaking Thailand
Cooking the perfect rice
Top tips of Prepare rice – wash gently using cold water to avoid breaking the grain. Avoid using a sieve! Ensure the water runs clear. this removes the impurities and starch.
Soak for at least an hour. Then remove and pour away the water. Place the soaked rice into a saucepan, always use double the quantity of water to rice. Bring to a boil, add salt to taste, cover and cook for 10 min on the lowest setting. Do not remove the lid.
Take off the heat. Leave to stand for 5 min – 10 min, using a folk fluff up the rice and serve.
Storage after cooking – rapidly cool and place into the fridge.