Check any pantry, arrive at any buffet and you are likely to find rice. We love it because it is easy to cook; you can just throw it into a pan with water and boil. We love it because it goes with anything: rice and beans, rice and chicken, rice and fish, are combos people relate to.
What simple home recipes can you try out with rice?
Because of rice’s mild mannered nature, it is easy to take it for granted (just throw it in a pan of water and boil). This is a great disservice because rice has range. With these 4 easy recipes, you can turn into that host who gives rice the flourish it deserves.
Coconut isn’t just popular for chocolate, it is a way to give rice depth. In Tanzania, it is a popular ingredient and you will find menus with coconut rice, and fish cooked in coconut sauce. They are delicious and this recipe will show you how to add this tropical feel to your rice. Don’t worry about the flavour overwhelming your dish, coconut plays well with rice.
You have two options when making coconut rice; you can use fresh grated coconut or use coconut milk. Some adventurous cooks even use a bit of both in their food.
With the grated coconut you will add a slightly chewy taste to your rice. If you are looking for a whole new way to cook rice, go for the grated coconut and surprise your senses.
What you need to make coconut rice
- Cumin seeds
- Mustard seeds (optional)
- Ginger, ground
- Chilies red or green (optional)
- Cashew nuts (optional)
- Rice, cooked
- Coriander to garnish
The best practice is to add 2 cups of water to every cup of rice. Add a little oil to water and boil the rice. In another pan, heat oil under moderate fire and add cumin and mustard seeds. Add the ginger, chilies and the cashew nuts and let them fry for a minute or two before adding the grated coconut. Sauté the mixture for a few more minutes before adding the rice.
Mix well and finally top off with coriander. Serve and enjoy with a sauce of your choice.
Fish or chicken pair well with this meal. If you are using coconut milk instead of the shavings, the method will vary slightly. First you will rinse and drain your rice. Next, heat some oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, mustard, ginger and the chillies. Add coconut milk, the rice, water and let the pot simmer until ready. Rice with coconut milk is a creamier in texture and taste.
With this recipe you can add or substitute spices as you wish. If you are a fan of thyme, pop it in there too. For more colour, carrots and peas can also be added to the recipe.
Rice goes well with other foods but it can also shine on its own. For a no sauce-necessary vegetarian rice, try this rich vegetable rice. With this recipe, you can add and remove the vegetables as you desire. If you are not a fan of French beans, leave them out. If you are obsessed with capsicum, add yellow and red and create a rice dish with a rainbow of colours.
What you will need for the rice
This recipe really hinges on good quality rice. A long grain or medium grain rice will yield best results. Water (twice the volume of rice)
First, wash the rice. This removes some of the starch that will contribute to the grains being sticky. What you will need for the vegetable mix. The world really is your oyster here. Dice;
- Red and yellow peppers
- French beans
- Green onions
Bring the rice to boil. You can opt to add a bit of oil to the rice. This ensures the grains do not stick together but it is a step you can skip. As it cooks, fry the vegetables. The vegetables must not overwhelm the rice. It is okay to add just 3 French beans and just a half a carrot.
A few peas do make a lovely display of vegetable rice- remember food is as much about the look as the taste. Make sure they are ready before adding them to the vegetables. Add oil to a large pan and add your garlic. Let it fry until you smell the aroma but do not let it burn.
Next add all your vegetables and let them fry for just a few minutes. You want them to retain some firmness. At this stage, you can add some soy sauce. If you want the rice to remain white and for the vegetables to retain their colours, you will stay clear of powdered spices.
Make sure the rice is cooked but not too soft. Drain any excess water and prepare to add the rice to the vegetables. Spoon rice into the pan with vegetables and stir gently. The pan with the vegetables should remain on the fire. Stir fry for a few minutes, serve and enjoy!
Brown Rice and Beef (The Korean way)
Brown rice has the bran layer and cereal germ intact. Therefore, it is higher in nutrients like fibre and magnesium. White rice is more popular than brown rice and one of the reasons for this is that white rice cooks faster. With this recipe, you can make a nutritious and delicious brown rice dish in no time at all. (Read on to see how you can make use of the leftovers)
For the rice
First, rinse the rice to remove any excess starch. When the water from the rice runs clear you are ready to move on to the next step. Soak the rice for 30 minutes to an hour and then drain it and prepare to cook. Soaking the rice however is optional. Some chefs swear by it and say it reduces the cooking time. Still others find it to be a step you can miss.
Add twice the amount of water to the rice i.e., one cup of rice will require 2 cups of water and bring the rice to a simmer. Once all the water is absorbed, turn the heat to the lowest setting and allow it steam for 10-15 more minutes. Keep the pot covered during this process.
If you have a rice cooker however, skip all of that and let the cooker do it for you.
For the Korean beef Bulgogi
Bulgogi translates to fire meat so this one is for those who want heat with their meats.
- Minced meat (1/2 a kilo)
- Soy sauce
- Brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of sesame oil (olive oil can work too)
- Soy sauce
- Ground ginger (1/4 teaspoon)
- Red pepper flakes
- Black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Green onions
In a pan over medium heat, stir beef and garlic until the beef is ready. You will know it is when the colour changes from pink to brown and the beef crumbles. In another small bowl, mix brown sugar, soy sauce, oil and seasonings. Add this mixture to the beef, stir and let it cook for a few minutes. Garnish bulgogi with green onions and serve on top of or with brown rice.
For Your Leftover Rice, Fried Egg Rice
If you find that you have cooked more rice than necessary while trying any of these recipes, do not despair. Keep the extra in the fridge and transform it into a whole new dish the next day (rice can keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days). It can keep in the freezer for much longer. This recipe is also one of the many ways you can use eggs in the kitchen.
What you will need
- Cooking oil
- 1 egg beaten
- Strips of bacon, chopped
- Crushed clove of garlic
- A little grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Soy sauce
- Your cooked left over rice
Heat oil in a pan and scramble your egg. Add the bacon and mushrooms and fry till golden. Once they are done, add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two before adding the rice. Make sure the heat is mild so that nothing burns. Fold everything together and finally mix the soy sauce and sugar and pour it over the mixture. Stir some more and serve.
Rice is versatile and can be made in so many different ways, these 4 are just the tip of the iceberg. If boiling rice or frying it with onions and tomatoes have been the only way you have been cooking rice at home, these recipes are bound to surprise and hopefully delight you.
Anne Kirya is a freelance writer whose work ranges from human interest stories to commercial and creative writing. She can be found at 4foodssakeeat.com.