My earliest memories of growing up in Delhi, India was eating my mom’s Pea Pulao with Moong Dal. The fruity aroma of the basmati rice was like a warm kiss on the cheek, and that was all I needed to feel comforted on a cold winter evening.
This year has been like no other. Despite all the uncertainties, I try to be resilient by focusing my attention on being positive and cherishing extra time with loved ones. I have used cooking to create a sense of normalcy for my family, and hope that I can do the same for all of you and help lift your spirits with quick, easy and comforting dishes with a little help from an absolute mealtime hero: rice!
What makes rice so special, you ask? In addition to my favorite vegan exfoliator being made out of rice, its superpower lies in its ability to act as a blank canvas, amplifying other flavors on a plate while also providing a filling source of starch. Its neutral flavor makes it a suitable ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. In our home, we use it as a base for making stir-fries, curries, fried rice, and so much more. If you have any leftover rice, you can always use it to stuff bell peppers, add it to soup as a thickener, combine it with veggies to bind burgers, or add it to some raisins and milk to make a sweet pudding!
Not only is rice a global staple, it’s also low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While there are thousands of rice varieties all over the world, they are generally classified into three sizes: short, medium, and long-grained in both white (refined) and brown (whole-grain) categories. In your local supermarket you’ll most likely find white jasmine, basmati, arborio (Italian), bomba (Spanish, used to make paella), sushi rice, and more.
So whether you’re in a part of the world where rice is used as an appetizer, side dish, main entree or even a dessert, we can all agree that with a few easily and locally available ingredients like oils, spices, and vegetables, we can make some really great rice dishes. Here are some popular rice dishes you may be already be familiar with: nasi goreng from Indonesia, paella from Spain, risotto from Italy, biryani from India, bibimbap from Korea, and congee from China.
Rice Cooking Tips
Rinse rice before cooking to guarantee perfect, gummy-free rice every time.
If you’re making a risotto using arborio rice, skip the rinsing as you will need all the starches to get a soft and creamy consistency.
If you’re making basmati rice, soak it for up to 30 minutes to obtain optimal texture.
Soaking rice is a bit different from soaking lentils because you rinse the rice, drain the water out, and let the wet rice sit; you never soak the rice in water unless you’re making congee or rice pudding.
Want it done fast? Using an Instant Pot cuts rice cooking time in half.
Rice Storage Tips
If stored in a sealed package in a dark, cool place, most white rice varieties can be stored for up to 4-5 years.
Because brown rice contains oil in its bran layer, it has a shorter span and can be stored for up to 6 months.
I hope that these tips come in handy as you prepare meals at home for your loved ones. All these simple, rice-inspired recipes can be made with everyday pantry items, so give them a try and share your finished dish by tagging @veggiecurean on Instagram!