Rice is a blessing. We use it for holy purposes but we also can pressure up a quick pulao or khichdi when hunger pangs drum away. <b2>
Rice has come to my rescue on many occasions. And I am totally happy with kadhi chawal or rajma chawal as a meal.
But I changed a few things some years ago. I switched to brown. It’s a trend that’s catching on, thanks to the new awareness about whole foods, easy availability and all those wonderful recipes.
When I started cooking it at home, there was huge resistance especially from my little kids. I could not blame them because I too found the rice looking different, tasting different.
Brown rice is the least processed form of rice.. kernels from which only the hull has been removed. The light brown colour is due to the presence of bran layers, which are rich in minerals and vitamins. Cooked brown rice has a slightly chewy texture and a nutty flavour.
That’s when my in-laws came to stay. So here we were at the table expecting lovely white rice to round off the meal when Alyona brought in a bowl of not so white rice. They did eat it up because I extolled the virtues of brown rice, but I could see the lack of conviction on the faces of my dining companions.
So the chef got into action. For the evening meal, Alyona and I made them a nice soft khichdi with brown rice and daal. Added a bit of haldi and salt and they loved it. So when the brown rice non-lovers come over, make khichdi. <b1>
But things are certainly on track now. The kids expect nothing but brown rice on the table and there is no fuss. And brown rice makes some lovely oil free pulaos and biryanis too… Try some boiled grains in a chicken soup to make it heartier, or even try a kheer with brown rice, you cannot go wrong. I have also made pohe using the flattened rice made from brown rice.
So be it Basmati, parboiled, glutinous, long grain Patna, pudding, red wild rice, risotto, sushi, jasmine, or brown — getting to know and use all types of rice has enough material for an encyclopedia.
Brown versus white
Brown rice takes longer to cook than regular white rice (about 45 minutes versus 15-20 minutes) because of the structure of the brown rice grain.
Brown rice has more nutrients. And the dietary fibre content in white rice is around a quarter of brown rice.
Brown rice may help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, and may even contribute towards maintaining a healthy weight. Also, compared to wheat, rice has lower gluten content and so is easier to digest.
Flour, crispies, noodles, paper, flakes.. rice comes in many forms. Around the world the snack industry is doing wonders. Crispies also make a healthy breakfast cereal. Glazed with gur, puffed rice becomes a chikki or enters bars of chocolates.
Sushi with sticky rice is something I am going to be working on in my kitchen. Rice has always presented challenges and I simply love overcoming them.
(The writer is a master chef, author and television host. Mail him on firstname.lastname@example.org )