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Graining champion: winning riffs on rice

From spicy rice to rice pudding, a sackful of ideas to help you get through this lockdown

21 January, 2021 — By Tom Moggach

FOR this lockdown, there’s a new bulk ingredient in my kitchen – a five-kilo sack of rice. The challenge, this time round, is to get creative with this basic carbohydrate. Here are some riffs on rice to raise the spirits:

Failproof Rice

There are countless methods for cooking rice, but here’s what works for me. Switch on the kettle. Choose a small saucepan with a lid and heat a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Measure the rice you need, using a cup or similar, then tip into the pan and give it a good stir. Measure out the boiled water using the same cup – exactly twice the volume of rice. Tip into the pan, add a pinch of salt, give it all another stir, turn to the lowest heat and put on the lid. Once the time is up, remove the lid, release the steam and fluff with a fork.

Lemon or Lime Rice

Cook the rice first and then squeeze over the citrus juice. Fluff with a fork and serve. This works particularly well as a partner to creamy dishes and seafood.

Saffron Rice

At the start of the cooking process, add a pinch of saffron to the cooking water. This will add some lovely colour to the grains.

Turmeric Rice

As above, add a pinch of turmeric to the cooking water. This will turn the rice yellow. Turmeric is very beneficial to the health, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Onion Rice

Finely chop onion and gently fry until soft and translucent. At this stage, add the rice and water and cook as normal.

Spicy Rice

Cook the rice first. Next, heat vegetable oil or ghee in a pan and sprinkle in spices such as mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Once the spices start to crackle and splutter, remove from the heat and stir into the cooked rice. You could also add a pinch of turmeric for colour.

Egg-Fried Rice

Cook the rice first. Next, heat oil in a frying pan and fry any extras such as onion, garlic and ginger. Stir in the rice, mix well, then push to one side of the pan to make room for the eggs. Add a little more oil, crack in the eggs then stir to scramble. Mix with the rice. You could also add all manner of extras, such as cooked peas, broccoli, cashew nuts etc.

Rice Pudding

Deeply comforting and easy to make. All you need is rice, milk and sugar. Ideally, use a round type of rice – pudding rice or a risotto rice. The idea is that you cook the rice in milk, adding sugar and any spices you like, such as nutmeg or cardamom. Serve with jam if you have a sweet tooth. Some people bake theirs in the oven. I tend to use a saucepan, half cooking the rice in water with the lid off, then stirring in milk for the final 20 minutes or so. Once cooked, stir in sugar and ground spices to taste. Serve warm, not hot.

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