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It's one of the most popular foods on the planet, keeping billions of people fed and healthy every day – from the remotest Indonesian village to the largest urban centers in the US. Where would we be without rice? Here's a breakdown of this wonder-grain's different types, and what to expect when cooking them.
Popular in Pakistani and Indian food, basmati is a fine example of long-grained rice. These grains are roughly four times as long as they are wide, and have a delicious nutty flavor. Having said that, there's no reason you can't level-up this rice with your own ingredients, perhaps with this spiced basmati rice recipe.
You'll know you've aced a basmati dish when it comes out of the pan soft and fluffy, with every grain separate from the other. This is a slightly dry rice, so you shouldn't see it clumping together.
Everyone has their own advice on how to cook basmati rice, but here's one way that works well for us. Wash your rice for a few minutes, and then soak it for 30 minutes. Use three parts water to two parts rice, add salt, bring to the boil, and reduce the heat. Cook for 15 minutes at the lowest setting and then let it stand off the heat for another five. Fluff and serve.
You'll also find this method useful when considering how to cook jasime rice, which hails from another part of Asia. This Thai rice goes well with south east Asian cooking like this green curry chicken with basil or with spicy stir fries. It also translates well to Jamaican jerk dishes. It's still a long-grain rice, but it's starchier than basmati and should hit the plate slightly sticky, making it perfect for eating with chopsticks. The starchiness makes a pre-cooking rinse especially important for this rice.
Medium-grain rice is shorter and starchier than its long-grain cousins, while short-grain rice is shorter and starchier still. The two categories often get lumped together, and some are interchangeable depending on the dish.
These rices take you from the longer grains' pilaf-style dishes into risotto territory (try this spinach and mushroom risotto for size). Alternatively, check out this paella dish for a great lesson in how to cook Spanish rice using the short grain valencia variety. Don't limit yourself just to savory dishes, either; this mango chai rice pudding recipe with carnaroli or arborio provides a welcome fragrant dessert for the whole family.
A short-grained Japanese rice is perfect for a sushi-making party at home.
When rinsing this starchy, sticky rice, it's important to ensure that the water runs clear.
Cook it with around the same proportion of rice to water, bring to the boil, transfer to a very low heat for 15 minutes and then and let stand for around 10 minutes after cooking.
Adding sugar and rice vinegar after the rice has cooled makes for perfect sushi, or you can get creative and try these shiitake and bacon rice balls.
No discussion of rice cooking would be complete without a quick nod to brown rice. This unrefined grain has been minimally processed and carries more fiber, making it a healthy option. It takes longer to cook than white rice - typically about 40 to 50 minutes - but your body will thank you. You can use it in everything from curries to salads, or you can use ZATARAIN'S® Salsa Verde Brown Rice with Red Beans to cook up a great start to the day with this salsa verde rice breakfast bowl recipe.
When is a rice not a rice? When it's a cauliflower!
Thanks to keto and other low-carb diets, this vegetable has become a favorite rice substitute, and if you blitz it in the blender rather than grating it by hand it's typically faster than cooking regular rice.
When you're considering how to cook cauliflower rice, choose from a couple of tried-and-true methods. Stir frying it in olive or sesame oil produces a fantastic flavor, or you can roast it in a thin layer on a baking sheet. The result? Low-carb rice that's tasty but great for your waistline.
Aside from its obvious main benefit - it's inexpensive and filling - there's another reason that rice has become so popular globally. With so many different varieties of rice to try, you can take your family around the world for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.