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All about rice

Rice is an integral part of many dishes. Here are some of the many types of rice and rice products that are available on supermarket shelves.

06 Mar 2007

Arborio or risotto rice

Used to make the traditional Italian dish risotto, this rice has a high starch content and absorbs a large amount of liquid, so it needs to be stirred continuously during cooking. The liquid is added to the rice gradually during cooking and the dish can be flavoured with a variety of ingredients, from cheese to seafood.

Once cooked, it has a soft and creamy texture and can be served as a side dish with grilled or roasted meat, chicken or seafood or eaten on its own as a starter or main meal.

Jasmine or Thai Fragrant rice

This rice has a fragrant flavour when cooked. It has tender grains and once cooked it has a soft, sticky texture that makes it ideal to serve with saucy curries such as traditional Thai curries.

It should be rinsed before cooking. Don’t stir it during cooking and don’t overcook. Serve as an accompaniment, especially with Thai food. It can also be used to make Thai rice desserts.

Bonnet rice

This white long-grain rice has a mild flavour that makes it a versatile and good all-purpose rice. It can be used as a base for rice dishes, as an accompaniment or in rice desserts.

Wild rice with white long-grain rice

Wild rice is very nutritious and has a nutty flavour and chewy texture. It is unrefined and takes about 40 minutes to cook. It is often sold mixed with other rice for a variety of flavour and texture. It makes a delicious addition to salads or can be served as an accompaniment.

White long-grain rice

White long-grain par-boiled rice is the most commonly used rice in South Africa and it is also very economical. It’s par-boiled to shorten the cooking time, doesn’t need to be rinsed, is easy to cook and has light and separate grains once cooked.

It’s extremely versatile and can be used to make rice salads, stir-fries and desserts, or it can be served as an accompaniment. Some brands are also enriched with extra vitamins.

Brown rice

Brown rice is less refined than white rice, which has had its outer husk removed. This gives it a nutty flavour and slightly chewy texture. Because brown rice is less refined, it is also more nutritious than white rice, containing more vitamins, minerals and protein.

It takes longer to cook than refined rice and will absorb more liquid. Brown rice can be added to chunky winter soups or served as an accompaniment to stews.

Basmati rice

This rice, which is used extensively in Indian cooking, has long, thin grains and a distinctive flavour and fragrant aroma when cooked. It should be rinsed before cooking. Don’t stir during cooking as this could cause the grains to stick together, and take care not to overcook it.

Basmati rice is used in many Indian dishes and as an accompaniment, especially with spicy food and curries. It can also be used to make rice puddings.

Brown and wild rice with lentils

This healthy mixture of brown and wild rice with added lentils takes about 40 minutes to cook. It makes the ideal addition to chunky soups and can be served as an accompaniment to stews and baked savoury dishes.

Spice for rice

There are a number of spice blends and seasoning mixes that can be added to rice while it is cooking to enhance the flavour. Once cooked, the flavoured rice can be used as a base for a rice dish or served as a tasty accompaniment

Flavoured rice

There is now a selection of flavoured rice available at most supermarkets. The pack comes with a rice sachet and a flavour sachet, which is added to the rice during cooking. The contents are usually enough for four. It can be used as a base for a savoury dish such as a stir-fry, or served as an accompaniment.

Ready-cooked rice

Ready-cooked rice has been cooked and then vacuumpacked. It simply needs to be heated and served. The range includes plain rice as well as a variety of flavoured rices, which are all ideal to serve as accompaniments. They are quite pricey, but if you need a side dish in two minutes they are a good stand-by.

Rice meal kits

Rice meal kits come with a rice sachet and a seasoning mix. Follow the instructions on the packaging and add one or two fresh ingredients such as meat or seafood. This is a quick one-pot, rice-based meal that will serve four.

- Ideas


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