Flavouring Rice

In this image: Hot salt water with cardamom pods, cinnamon and tumeric (and way too much foam! 😉 ). When tumeric is added to the water, it first turns the water a mesmerising deep red. As soon as you add the rice, it changes to a dull yellow.

One day at work me and my Indian co-chef got bored with the prescribed menu and started sabotaging it – gently. We started with the rice. She added spices to the water such as cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods, and I added salt and colour in the form of tumeric (I thought it might work the same as saffron – but sadly you won’t find saffron in a care home). The result was not only a successful culinary treat in our eyes but also in the eyes of the people we served it to. Thus began my journey of experimenting with this playful and versatile protein source. Imitating my co-chef I started adding different things to the water such as caraway or cumin seeds, allspice berries, coriander seeds. Anything seemed to work just fine! I also ‘interviewed’ chefs of different nationalities about their countries’ signature rice dishes: Turkish and Russian pilaf, Carribean cocount rice, Iranian ‘crispy bottom’ rice, Indian pilau rice, Jollof rice, Paella, Risotto, Risi Bisi, Cabbage Rice & Beans (especially great with raisins added to the peanut and chilli sauce!) – I’ll need years to try them all out! Luckily most people provided me with tasters, and some we make at The Food Chain where I volunteer.

The other great thing is that you cannot only flavour rice that is boiling or steaming away in water. You can also flavour rice puddings! For a start, you can boil rice in lots of liquids such as milk (e.g. kheer, chocolate rice pudding, raspberry rice), almond milk (almond rice), fruit/fruit purees/fruit juices (elderberry and apple rice). These other liquid/rice combinations you can then flavour with spices and add a variety of ingredients such as almonds, dried fruit, coconut flakes etc.

Last week I happened to make three rice dishes:
– buttered brown (and coloured) pilaf rice with a weird combination of spices (somewhere along the lines of tumeric caraway, cardamom, bay leaves, juniper berries, nutmeg, allspice berries and salt) to go with the Tarragon Hot Pot
– German rice pudding (the one with sugar and cinnamon, not the one with boiled cherries or other fruit) some of which I left without cinnamon to recycle it for…
– …Kheer (flavoured with cardamom mainly with added almonds, coconut flakes and raisins)

I think that’s enough rice for a while…

… wait a moment, didn’t I want to explore the big Chinese supermarket near Colliers Wood tomorrow? I looove Chinese vegetable fried rice!! Argh!


One response to “Flavouring Rice

  1. Glad to see you are not afraid of experimenting as you go. Most people are too afraid to even think about. Over the years, I have even surprised my self how nice things have turned out and tasted. Naturally I have had my failures, I think I would have 95% success rate. Keep up the good work.

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