Rice being a staple in most South Indian homes, it needs a makeover at times. I cook it plain or as a watery gruel called kanji (Kongee). It is alternatively cooked as pulav, biriyani or Chinese fried rice. Instead of loading it with spices and sauces or going plain, this time, I gave it a gentle touch by adding some lovely herbs.
I know many friends and family members, who have to eat rice everyday or else they feel unsatisfied, including my mother. I think, it is a matter of habit. Our family has moved away from rice-everyday schedule and now, it is almost once in a week.
This is a normal sight when I travel in Kerala. Lush green large paddy fields…tender saplings in watery fields with fish…croaking frogs…singing birds and some occasional snakes. Young rice plants dance in waves as the breeze brushes past. I love to look out and take in as much of it as possible. Our extended family back home, was into agriculture, growing rice and coconut palms, but things have changed now.
I remember walking on small mounts of earth made into bunds in between fields to lock water in, as rice grows. It used to be a balancing act for me to walk on the narrow bunds, extending hands to the sides, because, on slipping I would have a clumsy fall into soggy dirt.
The picture changes as rice plant grows and milky sap inside turns into grains. Water is drained out of the fields and it looks all brown and dry. Mature plants bend down with the heavy cluster of grains swollen inside their hard husk. When sunlight kisses, golden grains glisten…that is the precious gift! I miss those paddy fields and a lot of fun time looking for tiny fish swimming in muddy water.
Rice, has always been one of the oldest foods that graced our dinner tables. It is a delicious and versatile grain grown in many countries. When rice has its bran intact it is called ‘brown’ rice. Eating brown rice, sometimes containing the germ part, is the healthiest way to eat this grain. So, I chose brown rice for this recipe. It is not a particular recipe but a free flow of ingredients that tasted good, all put together.
Last year, I grew lime thyme and now it is spreading and has taken up a larger area. I think, I may have to check it to keep it under control. It is a low growing herb acting as a ground cover so I don’t mind if it spreads a bit. I have parsley, growing well in 3 pots so they were on hand too. This was an exercise to take these herbs to the table. Lime thyme and parsley added a very interesting flavour to this rice making it a gourmet dish.
- 1 cup brown rice
- 3 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup water
- one large crushed garlic clove
- salt, pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 a lime
- Cook rice by adding 3 cups broth and add 1 cup hot water little at a time.
- After water reduces a bit add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
- Let rice cook and absorb all the liquid. (Add more water if needed.)
- After cooking rice, add butter to coat grains.
- Finely chop parsley, lime thyme and mix into hot rice.
- Serve it hot with a good squeeze of fresh lime.
You can use a heavy steel or aluminum pot with a strong lid to cook rice on medium heat till the liquid boils and then reduce to low heat. But, a rice cooker makes life considerably easier. I cooked rice with more water as brown rice is different from white rice, add more hot water if you feel it is necessary. Obviously, it takes extra time to cook but retains a certain crunch after cooked.
This is a very easy way to prepare rice and add some delicate flavors to enhance it. Brown rice has a nutty taste and is quite chewy. I had some lentil cakes as a side and garlic, yogurt sauce to make it a complete meal. Wait for tasty lentil cake recipe coming up next!