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ALL ABOUT RICE

  1. Rice

  2. Varieties of Rice

  3. Nutrition

  4. Indian Basmati Rice

  5. How to cook Basmati rice?

  6. General Rice Cooking Tips

  7. 4 Basic Rice Cooking Methods

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RICE To Americans, rice is the most familiar food eaten in grain form. It is commonly served as a side dish in American households, but elsewhere it forms the basis for most meals. 

Nutrition Chart 

1 cup cooked rice = 205 Calories and 0.4 gm of fat, 4 gme of protein, 45 gms of Carbohydrate.

Rice holds a special place in Indian culture. On festive occasions, married women are honored with a coconut, a handful of rice and a length of fabric, and wished a life of fruitfulness. Mixed with red powder, rice is used to paint a red dot on the forehead, and it's showered on bridal couples and guests. Rice is strewn as a carpet before the images of gods, and showered on them as an offering.

Beyond these rituals, however,
rice plays an important part in Indian cuisine. Every region produces its own variety, which means a staggering array of rice, from inexpensive, short-grain red rice to  buttery, nutty baby basmati. And one of the essential talents of a prospective bride is how she cooks the precious basmati.

Rice was first grown in the American colonies in the late seventeenth century; by 1726, the grain was being exported from Charleston, South Carolina. Today, the major rice-growing states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, and California. 

In general, rice is a good source of B vitamins, such as thiamin and niacin, and also provides iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Although rice is lower in protein than other cereal grains, its protein quality is good because it contains relatively high levels of the amino acid lysine.

VARIETIES OF RICE  

Rice can be classified according to size

Long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain. The slender grains are four to five times longer than they are wide. If properly cooked, they will be fluffy and dry, with separate grains. 

Medium-grain rice is about twice as long as it is wide and cooks up moister and more tender than long-grain. It is popular in some Asian and Latin American cultures, and is the type of rice most commonly processed to make cold cereals. 

Short-grain rice may be almost oval or round in shape. Of the three types of rice, it has the highest percentage of amylopectin, the starch that makes rice sticky, or clump together, when cooked. Easy to eat with chopsticks, it is ideal for dishes like sushi.

In addition to the size classification, white rices are labeled according to how they've been processed

  • Enriched rice

  • Converted rice

  • Instant white rice

Enriched rice

Enriched rice has thiamin, niacin, and iron added after milling to replace some of the nutrients lost when the bran layer is removed. As a result, it is higher in these nutrients than brown rice.

Converted rice

Converted rice has been soaked and steamed under pressure before milling, which forces some of the nutrients into the remaining portion of the grain so that they are not completely lost in the processing. Converted rice takes a little longer to cook than regular rice, but the grains will be very fluffy and separate after they have been cooked.

Instant white rice

Instant rice, which actually takes about five minutes to prepare, has been milled and polished, fully cooked, and then dehydrated. It is usually enriched and only slightly less nutritious than regular enriched white rice, but it lacks the satisfying texture of regular rice.

Rices are also labeled according to variety

  • Arborio

  • Aromatic rices

  • Basmati

  • Glutinous rice (sweet rice)

  • Jasmine

  • Texmati

  • Wehani

  • Wild pecan (popcorn rice)

Arborio

Arborio is a starchy white rice, with an almost round grain, grown mainly in the Po Valley of Italy. Traditionally used for cooking the Italian dish risotto, it also works well for paella and rice pudding. Arborio absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid as it cooks, which results in grains of a creamy consistency.

Aromatic rices

These are primarily long-grain varieties that have a toasty, nutty fragrance and a flavor reminiscent of popcorn or roasted nuts. Most of these can be found in grocery stores, but a few may be available only at gourmet shops.

Basmati

Basmati, the most famous aromatic rice, is grown in India and Pakistan. It has a nutlike fragrance while cooking and a delicate, almost buttery flavor. Unlike other types of rice, the grains elongate much more than they plump as they cook. Lower in starch than other long-grain types, basmati turns out flaky and separate. Although it is most commonly used in Indian cooking, basmati can also be substituted for regular rice in any favorite recipe.It is fairly expensive compared to domestic rice.

Glutinous rice (sweet rice)

 Popular in Japan and other Asian countries, this type of short-grain rice is not related to other short-grain rices. Unlike regular table rice, this starchy grain is very sticky and resilient, and turns translucent when cooked. Its cohesive quality makes it suitable for rice dumplings and cakes, such as the Japanese mochi, which is molded into a shape.

Jasmine 

Jasmine is a traditional long-grain white rice grown in Thailand. It has a soft texture and is similar in flavor to basmati rice. Jasmine rice is also grown in the United States, and is available in both white or brown forms.

 

Texmati

Certain types of rice--some sold only under a trade name--have been developed in the United States to approximate the flavor and texture of basmati rice. Texmati is one of these; it was developed to withstand the hot Texas climate (there is also a brown rice version).

Wehani

An American-grown aromatic rice, Wehani has an unusual rust-colored bran that makes it turn mahogany when cooked.

Wild pecan (popcorn rice)

Another basmati hybrid, this aromatic rice is tan in color (because not all of the bran has been removed, with a pecanlike flavor and firm texture.

BASMATI RICE 

Basmati rice is usually soaked before cooking, but this preliminary step may result in a seepage of water-soluble B vitamins into the soaking liquid. If you decide to soak it (for 30 minutes to 2 hours), use the liquid to simmer the rice, too.

Basmati rice, like wine, gets better with age. High-quality packaged basmati is aged up to a year to enhance and intensify its taste, bouquet and cooking characteristics; under good conditions it keeps well for up to 10 years. Old rice cooks up fluffy, with separate grains, while new rice can become sticky.



Basmati, which means ``queen of fragrances,'' was originally brought from Afghanistan and planted in the hills of Dehra Dun, at the foot of the Himalaya. There, in the north of the country, the lush green paddy fields are watered by the snow-fed rivers of the majestic mountains. The grains are delicate, slender and naturally perfumed. (Some basmati hybrids are cultivated in the United States, including Texmati, Kasmati and Calmati.)

BIRYANI

Over the centuries, creative Indian cooks have turned rice into many novel dishes using local ingredients.

One of the best-known is biryani, a classic one-pot meal and a staple at most northern Indian restaurants. Just as a pastry chef expertly layers his cake with different textures, a great biryani is exquisitely tiered with savory rice, spiced meat and caramelized onions. It is then sprinkled with rose essence or saffron, covered, and cooked gently on very low heat until the flavors blend.

This slow cooking relaxes the basmati rice, allowing it to expand to its fullest, so that each grain enhances the tastes of the meat and seasonings. A topping of mixed dried fruits and nuts -- or edible gold or silver leaf-- completes the presentation.

Other Rice Preparations

In southern India, there are scores of rice dishes, each one differing in appearance, taste and texture. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, coconut milk, legumes, lemon juice and tamarind are used to make aromatic pilafs.

Along the coast, boiled rice is topped with highly spiced fish and shellfish to make fragrant seafood pilafs. Kitchri is Indian-style risotto, made with medium-grain rice, lentils, spices and herbs. And in Indian rice puddings, the uncooked rice is cooked in milk until the mixture condenses and develops magnificent flavors.

HOW TO COOK BASMATI RICE ?

The ubiquitous basmati is sold under many brand names, including Tilda, Pari and Dehra Dun -- all rich and flavorful. Most bags indicate whether the rice has been aged -- it should have been. If the information is not on the label, ask the grocer. To ensure fluffy, tender and evenly cooked grains, follow these
precooking steps:

Cleaning

Like other grains and legumes, rice may include unhulled
rice grains, stones, stems and tiny travelers. To remove them, spread rice on a white dinner plate or cookie sheet. Work a small portion of the rice at a time across to the opposite side of the plate, picking out any foreign matter.

Washing

Place the rice in a large bowl and pour in cold tap water
to cover. Swish the grains with your fingertips to release starches and to encourage any husks to float to the surface. Pour off the milky water. Wash two or three times until the water runs clear.

Soaking

Soaking the rice briefly (15 minutes to one hour) before
cooking encourages the grains to relax and absorb moisture. This allows the rice to expand into thin, long grains that will not break during cooking. After soaking, drain the rice, saving the soaking water to use as cooking water (this preserves all of the nutrients).

GENERAL RICE COOKING TIPS

Fluffy Texture

A few drops of oil, butter or desi ghee and a teaspoon of fresh lime juice added during cooking help the rice grains to remain separate and light during cooking. Stir-frying the rice in a little oil or desi ghee before adding water will also make the grains fluffy and separate.

How Much Water? 

The amount of water used will vary depending upon the strain and age of the rice and the depth and weight of the pan. As a general guideline, decide if you like your rice soft or firm, then gradually adjust the amount of water you use: 1 3/4 cups water to 1 cup of raw basmati rice makes just-tender rice. If you like a very firm texture, add 1 1/2 cups water.

The Right Pan

A heavy cooking pan with a tight-fitting lid will distribute the heat evenly. If your rice is cooking unevenly (perhaps the top layer is not cooked), then the lid is not fitting tightly enough. Use a kitchen towel as an inside cover; it stops the steam from condensing inside the lid and dripping back into the rice.

Don't Peek

Do not stir or disturb the rice as it cooks. Removing
the lid will let the steam escape and the rice will cook unevenly. Let the cooked rice rest, covered, for a few minutes before serving.

FOUR BASIC COOKING METHODS

Stovetop

Clean, rinse and soak 1 cup basmati rice as described.
Place in a medium-size heavy saucepan and add 1 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice and 1 teaspoon oil, butter or desi ghee. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest (covered) for few minutes before serving.

Microwave

Wash, soak and drain 1 cup basmati rice. Place in a 3-
quart microwave-safe dish with 2 1/3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook uncovered at full power for 12 minutes (in a 750-watt oven). Remove from the oven, stir once, cover, and microwave at full power for 4 minutes.

Remove the rice from the oven and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before fluffing and serving. 

Oven

Some Indians prefer to cook rice like pasta, boiling it in
plenty of salted water until it is partially done. It is then
drained, transferred to a baking dish, tightly covered, and baked until tender in a slow (300 degrees) oven. This method is generally used for biryanis.

Electric Rice Cooker

This appliance is very popular with Indians, because it can produce a large quantity of rice that does not become mushy. Following the manufacturer's directions, put rice and water in the cooker. Do not add salt. Cover and turn on the cooker. When the rice is done, the cooker will switch off automatically. It will turn on again at intervals to keep the rice hot. 

Caution: More than an hour of continuous heating will make the rice dry, so serve it then or store it in the refrigerator.

 

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