Showing posts with label grain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grain. Show all posts

Apr 16, 2018

Tips & Tools: How to Make Perfect Fluffy Rice

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

We eat rice every day, twice a day. Before I moved to South Asia I had rarely cooked rice. I had never even used a rice cooker! Googling the subject of cooking rice only revealed numerous methods with less than perfect results. So I emailed my Chinese-American university pal Eileen as to how to properly cook rice. I quickly learned that western methods of cooking rice were overly complicated and prone to failure.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white, kj 
The first thing my friend recommended was to buy a rice cooker. Well, we had a rice cooker but it had no instructions and we rarely had electricity to even run the thing back then. Now that we have 20 hours of electricity a day I can concur that a rice cooker is one of the most cost-effective gadgets ever. If you cook rice on a regular basis you definitely need a rice cooker. It is the easiest and most time-saving appliance ever, just set it and forget it!

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,
This is the kind of rice we eat every day!

The technique my friend Eileen taught me to cook rice is the absorption method. This is the most common way to cook rice in Asia. Rather than drowning the rice in water and hoping for the best, one adds only as much as the rice needs to cook, and waits for it to absorb while cooking. -It is the simplest way to cook rice and I have found it gives the most reliable results. The method you use to cook rice also depends on the variety of rice you are using. Indians tend to use long-grain rice and use techniques to create separate grains that remain perfectly intact. The Chinese use starchier medium-grain varieties so that the rice sticks together, making it easier to pick up with chopsticks. I have cooked both a local short-grain pearl rice and long-grain Basmati rice with this absorption method with excellent results for the past 10 years!
absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,
1/2 cup uncooked rice = 1&1/2 cups cooked rice

First, you'll want to determine how many servings of rice you wish to make. I usually estimate one and a half cups of cooked rice per adult for my Indian family then add an extra half cup just in case. Rice triples in volume when cooked so that's one-half cup per person of uncooked rice.
absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,
ONE PART RICE TO TWO PARTS WATER
The second and most crucial part of this technique is the ratio of rice to water. All sorts of variables come into play here: the type of rice being cooked, the age of the rice, humidity levels, how well the lid fits on the pot you use, the temperature of the burner being used, altitude, what phase the moon is in (kidding) - the list goes on. Because of all these variables, this is the step that may require some trial and error. The best place to look for the proper ratio the rice is to be cooked at is the directions on the package the rice came in. (Amazingly enough, the instructions on the back of rice packages are usually correct.) If that is unavailable I usually estimate one part rice to two parts water. Sometimes we buy local rice that comes in a plain burlap sack from a village and sometimes we buy rice from the supermarket that's labeled. If the rice is really fresh (as in recently harvested) it may need a little less water to cook. Rice harvested more than a year previous generally requires more water than recently harvested rice due to decreased moisture content. Cooking rice is game of ratios, so be sure to measure carefully unless you want a bowl full of disappointment.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,
This is how rice gets cleaned so there's bound to be twigs, pebbles, or bugs in it!
Third, unless you are using rice that is fortified or enriched you will have to wash it. Rinsing traditionally polished rice alters its texture when cooked. Rinsing removes the thin layer of starch from the surface of each grain and keeps the rice from sticking together thus ensuring perfectly separate grains. Long-grain rice, like Basmati, is always rinsed for this reason. This doesn't have to be an extremely thorough sort of a cleanse. I usually rinse the rice twice over the sink by submerging it in water, swirling the rice with my fingers, then pouring off the cloudy water. Submersion allows any debris like twigs, bran, or insects to float out of the rice also. I have seen recommendations on the internet to rinse rice until the drainage water runs clear- this will never happen no matter how many times you rinse the rice I assure you.
absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,
2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline: the aromatic compound that gives bread, jasmine rice, basmati rice, pandan, popcorn, & bread flowers their characteristic scent
Fourth, you need to decide if you wish to soak the rice or not. Soaking the rice speeds up cooking which affects the flavor of the rice. By letting the rice soak for 15 to 30 minutes, you can decrease the cooking time of most rice varieties by about 20 percent.  2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline is the flavor compound in aromatic rice varieties that is responsible for their characteristic popcorn-like aroma.  2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline dissipates while cooking. The longer the rice is exposed to heat, the less of an aromatic flavor it will have. By soaking the rice and shortening the cooking time, you will get more flavorful results. Some people rinse again after soaking the rice, I do not find it necessary.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

Fifth, add a little oil, ghee, or butter to the rice and water before cooking. This is optional but it will add flavor to the rice, help keep the grains separate, and prevent dryness if the rice is left standing for more than an hour after cooking. Restaurants usually do this to keep cooked rice tasting fresher and tender longer. I usually only add a little butter or ghee for special occasions such as if we are having dinner guests. Most Indians and Nepalis do not add salt to their rice when cooking so I don't add it either.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

Sixth, cook the rice over medium heat and with the lid on. If the temperature is too high you run the risk of scorching the rice at the bottom of the pot or unevenly cooked grains. If the temperature is too low you'll get a gloopy mess of undercooked rice. Put the lid on and keep it on throughout the cooking process. I recommend only lifting the lid to check the rice after 15 minutes. Do not stir the rice while it is cooking as you risk breaking the grains, releasing more starch, and a mushy mess. You can tell that the rice is completely cooked when all the water has boiled away, there are "fish eyes" or holes in the rice, and you can hear a crackling noise rather than a bubbling noise signifying that the water has completely boiled away.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

The last and most important step: let it rest! Resting is an unskippable step. When the rice has finished cooking remove the pot from the burner and let it sit with the lid still on. Allow the rice to rest for at least 10 minutes after it's done cooking to achieve optimum texture. This rule goes for all types of rice. Keep the rice covered until you’re ready to eat. Just before serving fluff the rice with a fork or rice paddle. As the Indian proverb goes, grains of rice should be like brothers – close, but not stuck together.
 
absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,
Perfection!
So there you have it: ratio, rinse, soak, flavor, cook, rest, and fluff! Follow these easy steps and you'll get perfect, fluffy, rice every time. This is it - the foolproof recipe to cook rice on the stovetop:

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C long-grain white rice
3 C water
1 tsp cooking oil, butter, or ghee (optional)

Here's what to do:
1) Measure out 1&1/2 cups rice and place into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cooked rice expands to three times its original size so be sure to choose an adequately sized pot. 
absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

2) Over the sink add room-temperature water to the rice until it is covered by about an inch. Use your fingers to swirl the rice and water around the pan. Drain the cloudy water off of the rice through your hand. Discard any debris that floats to the surface. Repeat this process one to two more times. 

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

3) Add 3 cups water to the rinsed rice and a teaspoonful of oil, butter, or ghee if using. For fluffier rice, the rice should be soaked for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes prior to cooking.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white, absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

4) Cover and place the pot on a burner set on medium heat. Allow rice to cook for 15 to 20* minutes or until water has evaporated and the rice is tender. I usually check on the rice after 15 minutesYou may raise the lid occasionally to see if the water is boiling, see if the water has evaporated, or to listen for a crackling noise signifying that the last of the water has boiled away. Do not stir the rice while it is cooking.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,
The little holes you see in the rice are called 'fisheyes' and signify that the rice has been cooked properly.



5) Remove pan from heat. Keep the lid on. Let rice stand, covered, for 10–15 minutes to firm up and absorb the last bit of water.

absorption, Asian, cook, easy, fluffy, grain, Indian, long, make, method, perfect, Recipe, rice, simple, vegan, vegetarian, white,

6) Remove the lid just before serving and fluff the rice with a fork or rice paddle. Serve hot. This recipe makes 4&1/2 cups cooked rice.

Helpful Hints:
The same procedure can be used for a rice cooker. Instead of step 4 just place the pot in the rice cooker instead of on a stove burner.

*If cooking at altitudes over 3,000ft/1,000M increase cooking time by 5 minutes.

A special thanks to my dear friend Eileen!

Nov 21, 2016

Ingredients: Red Millet, Finger Millet, Ragi, Kodo, Keppai

Red millet, finger millet, ragi, kodo, and keppai are all names of an annual plant grown as a cereal across Africa and Asia. Red millet was originally a native of the Ethiopian highlands of Africa but has been cultivated in India since the Iron Age. This hardy plant thrives in a variety of climates and can be made into a wide range of nutritious foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages. 

Eleusine coracana or red millet growing in the neighbors' field

Red millet or Eleusine coracana is called kodo or ragi in here in Nepal. It is usually planted during the arid Fall and Winter after the Monsoon season in Nepal. It is often interplanted with pigeon peas or maize as you see in the above photo of my neighbor's field. Red millet is extremely pest resistant and once harvested the seeds store nearly indefinitely. Freedom from moulds or insects and long storage capacity make red millet an important crop in risk-avoidance strategies for Third World farming communities. With a 1 tonne per hectare yield, it has the highest productivity among millets grown in the world. The straw from red millet can be also used as animal fodder.

Methionine
Red millet is a nutritious source of calcium, iron, fiber, and the essential amino acid methionine. Methionine is often lacking in the diets of vegetarians and cultures who subsist on starchy staples such as rice and maize. As an essential amino acid methionine is important in angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels. Red millet's high fiber content and low glycemic index score make it an excellent choice for those suffering diabetes too. It is also easily digestible and gluten-free.

Dhido thali

Dhido
is a traditional food in some areas of Nepal made from a thick paste of boiled red millet flour. You will find dhido eaten as a staple in areas of the Himalayas where the altitude and aridity do not allow the cultivation of wheat or rice. It is a lot like mush or polenta with a bit of a nutty flavor. Dhido is usually eaten with a dollop of butter or ghee accompanied by pickles, chutneys, curried vegetables and yogurt. It is served steaming hot as it hardens upon setting. To eat it you tear off bits by hand and dip it into one of the tasty sides served alongside. 

Kodo ko Roti

Red millet is also eaten as a pancake like flat bread called kodo ko roti. The millet flour is mixed into a simple batter with water and a pinch of sugar. The batter is then fried in a bit of ghee. Kodo ko roti is usually served with a variety of pickles, chutneys, and dal. To eat kodo ko roti one tears off a piece of the roti and uses it to scoop up the condiment of choice.


Nepalis are avid home brewers and distillers. Red millet is used to make a variety of alcoholic beverages. In the photo above you see an earthenware and copper still with firewood underneath it ready for use. There are many similar types of stills in various sizes in different communities across Nepal. Earthenware is preferred to for the fermentation process. Copper is preferred for distilling since it removes sulfur-based compounds from the alcohol that would make it unpleasant to drink. 


Rakshi is a traditional distilled alcoholic drink made from red millet or rice in Nepal and Tibet. It is clear like vodka and is reputed to taste much like Japanese sake. Rakshi is not aged before consumption and is usually stored and sold in plastic fuel containers as you see in the above photo. In 2011 Rakshi was deemed by CNN to be of the world's 50 most delicious drinks and was described thusly, "Made from millet or rice, Rakshi is strong on the nose and sends a burning sensation straight down your throat that resolves itself into a surprisingly smooth, velvety sensation. Nepalese drink this home brew to celebrate festivals, though some think that the prized drink itself is the reason to celebrate."

Newari lady in Kathmandu pouring rakshi from an anti (brass pitcher) into a pala (small clay bowl) for drinking

Rakshi is often served during special occasions in Nepal.
The alcoholic drink is poured from a great height via a brass pitcher with a small spout making an entertaining spectacle. This requires an expert hand and is an an art in itself.

Tongba containing chhaang with a perforated bamboo straw

Chhaang is a fermented beer often made from red millet in Nepal and Tibet. To drink chaang a fermented mash of red millet is first placed in a special drinking vessel called a tongba as you see in the above photo. Hot water is then poured into the tongba and left to steep for about five minutes. A fine bamboo straw with a perforated filter tip is then used slurp up the diluted alcohol out of the fermented mash. Hot water is replenished in the tongba until the all alcohol has been extracted from the mash.


Nutritionally, ecologically, and gastronomically, red millet is a truly versatile grain that is making a comeback in South Asian cuisines. During colonial times red millet was considered a coarse grain suitable only for the laboring classes. Nowadays, red millet is touted as a fashionable and healthy 'super food.' One can find all sorts of delicious preparations of red millet such as laddoos, biscuits, halva, and pakora all across the Indian subcontinent. (As well as alcoholic beverages.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Printfriendly