Vegan Grandma

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fragrant Vegan Basmati Rice Pilaf and Some Interesting Things About Rice
Sorry, I missed posting post yesterday. I had some dental work done, and the medication the dentist gave me pretty much made me zonked out. I feel fine today, though.

On Tuesday I made this quick , easy, and really good vegan rice recipe from More Soy Cooking, Healthful Renditions of Classic Traditional Meals, by Marie Oser, published by John Wiley and Sons, page 211. Despite the name of the book, the recipe does not contain soy.

Fragrant Vegan Basmati Rice Pilaf
serves 6
This dish delights the senses with the fragrance of basmati rice and spices.

1 cup basmati rice

2 ½ cups vegetarian "beef" or "chicken"-flavored broth, boiling

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos (or lite soy sauce)

2 tablespoons chopped cashews

Place the rice in a wire mesh colander and rinse thoroughly. Set aside.

Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf to the broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the drained rice, thawed peas, turmeric, onion powder, and liquid aminos. Bring back to a boil, cover, and lower the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff gently with a fork, remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cashews, and serve immediately.

Some Interesting Things About Rice

Rice, the seed of a semi-aquatic grass, is the main food staple for over two-thirds of the world. In china the word for "rice", is a synonym for "food". In Japan, the word for "cooked rice" is a synonym for "meal".

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

Rice is categorized according to the size of the grain: long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain.
Grain length determines texture and consistency.

Long-grain rice is 4 to 5 times as long as it is wide. When it is cooked, long-grain rice becomes firm and fluffy, and the grains separate easily.

Medium-grain rice becomes moist, tender, and sticky when cooked.

Short-grain rice, sometimes called sweet, sticky, pearl, or glutinous rice (It does not contain gluten-"glutinous" means sticky), is almost round in shape and has a high starch content. It becomes moist, tender and sticky when cooked. Short-grain rice is the best rice to use for risotto, paella, sushi, and Asian desserts.

Brown rice is a more nutritious form of rice with the bran layer kept intact. All rices need to have their hulls removed. At this point you have brown rice. If the next layer, the bran, is also removed, you have white, milled rice.

Korean and Japanese cuisines most commonly use short-grain white rice. The stickiness is good for making sushi and rice balls.

Storing rice: store white rice in an air-tight container for 1 year. Store brown rice in an air-tight container for 6 months.

Cooking Rice

Rice must be cooked in a heavy pan with even distribution of heat. A tight-fitting lid must be used if you are using the absorption method. If you do not have a tight-fitting lid, put a piece of well-crimped foil between the top of the pot and the lid.

The size of the pan must be right, no larger than 5 to 6 times the volume of the raw rice. Cooking rice will cause it to expand about 3 times its raw volume.

Perfectly cooked rice is tasty, light, and fluffy. The grains are distinct and tender but not mushy.
Outside the U.S., talc is still sometimes used as a milling aid and should be rinsed off in a few changes of cold water. Though rice with talc should be labeled as such, rinse if there's the slightest doubt. Rinsing may wash off loose starch, making the rice less sticky.

Soaking the rice will shorten the cooking time and to allow for maximum expansion of long-grain rice, particularly basmati. A soak also makes the grains a little less brittle so they're less likely to break during cooking. Soak for at least 30 minutes. If you do soak your rice, be sure to drain it thoroughly or you'll be using more water in cooking than you intended.

To cook white rice, for each cup of rice, use 2 cups of water for long-grain rice, 1 and 3/4 cups for medium-grain rice, and 1 ½ cups for short grain rice. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Do not lift the lid while cooking. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork to release steam, and serve immediately. Or let the rice rest for up to 30 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork before serving.

To cook brown rice, for each cup of rice, use 2 ½ cups water for long-grain rice, 2 and 1/4 cup water for medium-grain rice, and 2 cups for short-grain rice. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 35 to 45 minutes. Do not lift the lid while cooking. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork to release steam, and serve immediately. Or let the rice rest for up to 30 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Brown rice will cook in half the time if it is soaked for 4 or more hours, drained, then cooked with fresh water.

To insure separate grains when cooking long grain rice, saute the rice in a small amount of oil before cooking. Add the liquid, and cook as directed.

To keep cooked rice warm, place a double layer of paper towels under the lid to absorb the steam which otherwise would condense and make the rice sticky.

Rice will develop a nuttier flavor if it is cooked first in a dry skillet or in a small amount of oil. Stir until golden, then add the liquid and cook as usual.

Add a few drops of lemon juice to the cooking water to help white rice retain its white color.

For a different taste, soak rice in cider before cooking.

If you accidently burn rice, remove the unburned portion to another pot, replace the water, then place a piece of fresh white bread or a thin layer of onion skins on top of the rice, and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the bread or onion skins. The bread or onion skins will absorb the burned taste.

Don't use salt or margarine when cooking plain rice - this kills its natural sweet flavor.

Older rice can lose some of its moisture, requiring more water and a longer cooking time than fresh rice.

Leftover rice will keep for days, and it's perfect for making fried rice. Just be sure to wait until the rice is perfectly cold before storing it in the refrigerator. For the best results, wait a couple of days before making the fried rice - this gives the ingredients more time to blend together. If the cold rice is a bit lumpy, try sprinkling a bit of cold water on it.

Leftover rice can also be used to in soups, stews, or salads.

To reheat rice, Place the rice in a saucepan or saute pan and add 2 tablespoons of water per cup of cooked rice. Cover and heat at medium high on the stove top. You can also place the rice in a sieve over a pot of boiling water and cover.

Frozen rice can be added to stir-fries or soups without defrosting. The rice will heat up in a few minutes.

Serve rice at room temperature instead of chilled in salads to avoid crunchy rice.

To clean a pan of stuck-on or burned rice, soak the pan in warm water for at least 30 minutes, or fill the pan with water and heat over low heat for a few minutes. Scrape the pan with a metal or plastic spatula.


Problem: The rice is still very chewy or hard in the middle after the allotted time.
Solution: Add just enough water to create a little steam, 1/4 cup or less. Put the lid on and cook the rice on very low heat for another 5 minutes.
Problem: The rice is cooked but too wet.
Solution: Uncover the pot and cook over low heat to evaporate the water. Or gently turn the rice out onto a baking sheet and dry it in a low oven.
Problem: The grains are split and the rice is mushy.
Solution: Use the rice for rice pudding and start over if you have the time.

Some Varieties of Rice

Arborio Rice is a medium, starchy white rice, with an almost round grain, grown mainly in the Po Valley of Italy. Arborio has a characteristic white dot at the center of the grain. It absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid as it cooks, which results in grains of a creamy consistency around a chewy center and has exceptional ability to absorb flavors. Traditionally used for cooking the Italian dish risotto, it also works well for paella and rice pudding.

Cooking hints: Don't rinse arborio rice. Simmer 1 part rice with a little soy margarine, reduced wine, and chopped onion; then, stirring constantly, slowly add to the simmering mixture 2 1/2 to 3 parts hot water or stock until the rice is cooked, about 25 minutes. When cooked properly, the center of the grain should be hard while the rest of the grain is soft and creamy.

Best uses for arborio rice are risotto, stews, and soups.

Basmati rice is a non-glutinous rice that has been cultivated at the foot of the Himalayan mountain ranges for centuries. It is along grain slender rice from India and Pakistan, is fragrant and has a nutty flavor. This rice has a firm, almost dry texture when properly cooked. The kernels increase in length by more than three times when cooked to produce a very long slender cooked grain. The best Indian Basmati has been aged for at least one year to increase firmness of cooked texture and increase the elongation achieved in cooking. There are many varieties grown in the U.S., but none match authentic Indian Basmati for favor, aroma, texture, and appearance.

Basmati rice is commonly used in South Asia where it is first fried in oil, then boiled. Saffron or turmeric is often used to season the rice while cooking.

Cooking Hints: –Like other grains and legumes, rice may include unhulled rice grains, stones, and stems . 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.
White basmati rice has a starchy powder coating, and should be rinsed in a sieve under running water until the water drains clear.

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).

Boil basmati in water for perfumed rice dish. Add some whole spices, nuts, dried fruits, vegetables and beans to the rice and make a rice dish into a main meal.

Best uses for basmati rice are pilafs, side dishes, chili, and plain boiled white rice. Basmati rice is not very good for puddings, veggie burgers or any dish where the rice is not displayed whole. For such dishes parboiled rice or short grained rice is preferred.

Jasmine rice from Thailand is an aromatic rice with a strong aroma and a taste that is unique, and a sticky texture. This excellent white rice can be interchanged with white Basmati rice for variety. The rice hardens in texture and loses aroma with time. There are many varieties being grown in the U.S. in imitation of this unique type of rice. These varieties have improved over the years, but so far no one has matched the unique texture, aroma, and texture of Thai.

Cooking hints: Jasmine rice has a starchy powder coating, and should be rinsed in a sieve under running water until the water drains clear.

Bring 1 part rice, 3 parts liquid to a boil; Simmer, covered for 20 - 25 minutes, or until rice has absorbed the liquid.Best uses for jasmine rice are pilafs, side dishes , and plain boiled white rice. Jasmine is Not very good for puddings, veggie burgers or any dish where the rice is not displayed whole. For such dishes parboiled rice or short grained rice is preferred. Jasmine is excellent for cooking Thai curries and Vietnamese dishes

Jasmati rice is a version of jasmine rice grown in the United states. It is not as sweet as Thai. jasmine rice, and it tastes more like conventional long-grain white rice. It’s less expensive than Thai jasmine, and you don’t have to rinse it.

China black rice has an excellent texture,color and flavor. It has a nutty taste, soft texture, and beautiful rich deep purple color.
Best uses are pilaf, Steamed and plain and served with a stir fry dish or a curry, puddings and cakes.

Red Bhutanese rice is a partially milled rice with a red bran. It cooks with a little less water than most brown rices and has a very pleasant earthy flavor.

Glutinous rice (sweet rice) is 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.

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.
Wild rice is not a rice it is a cereal grain, the seeds of a water grass. They are long and dark brown with black colorings, a wonderful smoky, nutty flavor and a chewy texture. Wild rice from lakes are the best choice as they are far superior than cultivated wild rice. Although, cultivated paddies provide excellent breeding ground for waterfowl and other wildlife.
Wild rice has been the staple food of the Sioux and Chippawa

Cooking hints: 1 cup of raw wild rice makes 3 to 4 cups cooked wild rice. This rice needs to be soaked for 15 minutes and then cooked with three parts water to one part wild rice for 40 minutes. Steam for 5 minutes before serving.

Store uncooked wild rice indefinitely in an airtight container.

Best uses for wild rice are to give a gourmet quality to a meal , Side dish, Casseroles , Salads, and Stuffings.

Nutrition Information: Wild rice is high in protein. It's a good source of a number of nutrients such as copper, fiber, folate, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and zinc.
Information Sources:

Grandmother's Food Secrets, by Dr. Myles H. Bader, published by Mylette Enterprises, LLC, Las Vegas NV 89102

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

The Best Recipes in the World, by Mark Bittman, published by Broadway Books, New York

The Essential Vegetarian Cook Book, by Diana Shaw, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers

World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jeffrey, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York


  • At 6:09 PM, Blogger Pixie said…

    Wow! I love your's so informative. You have a new fan here. I also saw that you are starting a gardening blog as well? I can't wait for that one. I really want to start a garden (my daughter keeps asking when) and I'm interested to hear from someone who knows what they're doing because I sure don't.


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