For a little over 20 years of my life the long, slender white grains of rice that stay separate and fluffy once cooked had a strong presence in our household. Cooked with aromatic spices like cloves, cardamoms, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks and vegetables, I was fond of this Indian pulao that emerged with this long grained white basmati rice. Sometimes the same rice was stewed with ghee and yellow moong daal to make Khichri. Yet on other times a simple sauté of sharp onions, cumin seeds and fresh green peas in ghee was simmered with the fragrant white rice on a pot of boiling water finally served with a flavourful fresh vegetable curry. And how can I forget Kheer (classic white rice milk pudding with nuts, saffron and cardamom) which my husband is so fond of that he could have it any time of the day and year.
The versatility of rice never ceases to amaze me. In it’s most basic form boiled/steamed rice is served with curries and beans of all kinds or tossed in large woks, stirred with sauces to make fried rice. The milled powdered form is used to make packets of noodles, flours, biscuits and crackers to stack on grocery shelves. Ferment it in different ways to make rice wine (sake), vinegars and beers. In numerous Asian countries it is consumed in all 3 meals of the day, including breakfast to make a soupy thin porridge (congee) style dish that I am not particularly a fan of.
These days I find myself exploring varieties of brown rice from fragrant Thai jasmine brown rice to Basmati brown rice to broken brown rice tossed in salads. And lately wild red and black rice (which is actually a grass rather than a grain) has found its place on the shelves of the kitchen cabinets. Since these varieties retain the bran around the kernel they are not only richer in nutrients but also have a chewy and nutty taste. A taste that I have developed and grown to like tremendously in the past few years.
The below dish is a simple one, a one-pot to cook up for weeknight dinners when we are always crunched for time. Being a gluten-free vegetarian dish packed full of flavour only helps to look forward to dinner after a long day.
Blend of brown rice, red rice and wild black rice
4-5 cloves garlic smashed
1 small onion chopped
1 bunch soft green beans
1 packet brussel sprout
2 carrots diced
1 organic vegetable stock cube or homemade vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
Chopped coriander to garnish
1 tablespoon grated cheddar cheese to garnish (optional)
salt and black pepper as per taste
Method of preparation:
1. Sauté the smashed garlic, onions, soft green beans, carrots and brussels sprout in a deep non stick pan
2. Wash the rice blend and mix in the sautéed vegetable mix.
3. Add in the stock and water, salt and black pepper as per taste. Cook until the water has dried and rice is cooked. (I normally use 1 part rice to 3 parts water. The blend takes longer to quick than just plain brown rice.)
4. Once cooked garnish with chopped coriander and grated cheddar cheese before serving.