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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Rice 'N Spice #1

My youngest used to limit me to making plain white rice. He liked it, I was happy because it is easy to make and everyone was satisfied. Lately though he has been willing to accept a bit more "variety" in his rice. His taste buds seem to be changing. So I get a chance to experiment at times sometimes it works out well sometimes .. well we won't talk about it!

Surprisingly enough, making good rice is not as simple as it first seems if you choose to start with the untouched rice. And indeed there are many types of rice to choose from. They are grown in different parts of the world and each not only will have a specific flavor (even served plain) to the discerning palette - each type really requires different amount of times to cook and get just right. For instance Persian rice needs less time than Indian Basmati Rice. Believe it or not if you do eat rice you will taste the difference in grains.

Rice 'N Spice - Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

(Picture above depicts Rice 'N Spice three-quarters complete. It was prepared using Basmati Rice though I prefer the Persian Rice grain much more. See Full Recipe Below!)

Overcooked rice is also no good, as is soggy rice. So do not think that making a good dish of rice is just a matter of turning on the gas, dumping rice in water and letting it cook - unless of course you are using some name-brand, pre-prepared, instant rice. I have nothing against it and indeed on occasion find myself going for that kind of rice as well in the Supermarket, (especially when I am dying for that cute lady to come over and say "Don't use that. Here is a great recipe for yummy rice! No such luck folks.. sigh!) BUT it is fun to experiment with rice. Especially since if your creation is going to go south of the border, you have not wasted that much money or time on it.

Nevertheless in most rices there are a few real tricks to use which will serve to make your rice much better. One such trick is to use olive oil at the beginning. I will explain this below. Another is how you choose to add spices - at what stage and when.

Utensils Required:
  1. 1 Pot
  2. Measuring Cup
  3. A Big Spoon (To stir the rice)
  4. Optional: - If you follow recipe below an oven-tempered dish (as in picture)
  1. 1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
  2. 1-2 cups of rice (Picture depicts results of 2 cups of rice - Spices below are what was used for TWO cups of rice.)
  3. 1 Teaspoon Curry
  4. 1 Teaspoon Turmeric
  5. 1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt (or 3 finely grated cloves of fresh garlic)
  6. 1 Teaspoon Onion Salt (or 1 finely grated small onion)
  7. Raisins (if you like them)
  8. Water
  1. Cover the bottom of the pot with the Olive Oil. If you need more than 1 Teaspoon then fine. Just remember the bottom should be covered with a very thin layer. Do not drown the rice in olive oil!
  2. Put the pot with ONLY the olive oil on the flame. Dump in the rice. (NO WATER YET!)
  3. Stir the rice around and you will see it begin to change color a bit while starting to be covered with and absorbing the olive oil.
  4. This should be done for no more than 60-90 seconds.
  5. Pour in the water. Depending upon the type of rice and how many cups of rice you will be cooking will depend how much water you need. A normative division is 2.5 cups of water for every cup of rice. (But with grains like Basmati you will need more water.)
  6. Add your spices after the water.
  7. (See Teddy's Notes for possible permutations to this recipe.)
  8. Bring the flame to high and let the water begin to boil.
  9. Once boiled turn the flame down low, so that the rice will simmer.
  10. Cover the pot.
  11. Wait 15 minutes or so checking the pot.
  12. As the rice becomes ready you will see less and less water in the pot. The rice in this recipe will look yellow (result of the Turmeric).
  13. Now you have two choices:
  14. The first choice is to let the rice cook until the end. Taste it. Make sure it is not too wet and not too hard! Once almost all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is soft (not soggy!) take it off the flame and you are ready.
  15. If the rice is too hard still, add another cup or two of water (not too much) and let the rice simmer more. This usually has to be done with grains like Basmati.
  16. Your second choice is to remove the rice once it is soft to eat but still has water in it, into an oven tempered dish (like the one in the picture!)
  17. Pre-heat Oven to approximately 150 Degrees C. (300 Degrees F.) and place the rice in the oven for around 15-20 minutes covered with aluminum foil (you do not want the top to burn!).
  18. The oven process serves to "bake" in the spices while getting rid of the excess water as well.
  19. Before serving if you want top the whole dish with a few raisins. (My family does not like them in rice, but to each their own!)
At the end you should have a tasty yet fine and evenly flavored dish of really yummy rice.


Rice 'N Spice #1 - Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

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Here is a caveat: I add the spices when the olive oil is on the flame BEFORE I put the rice in. You can do it either way. Adding the spices after adding the water is much easier and less of a headache.

Another possibility: You can fry the onions and garlic if you wish to BEFORE making the rice and then add them after the water. All a matter of taste and how you like it. The dark in the corner of the photograph are the "fried onions" before they were mixed in well.

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