I don’t know why it is the case that vegetarian establishments or eateries with the healthy food image tend to serve brown rice that tastes absolutely dreadful. The stereotypical impression that brown rice is course, heavy and mushy and therefore tastes terrible in comparison to white rice is a half-truth at best, perpetuated by the above restaurant scene.
Let me tell you why the brown rice served outside is absolutely rubbish.
Number one: Wrong type. Most tend to serve the red rice variety that perhaps with its exaggerrated red or purple coloredness tends to be more visually convincing that one indeed is eating unpolished rice.
Number two: Wrong grade. I wonder how many people even know that brown rice has different grades just like white rice does? Pick a low grade and not surprisingly your brown rice will cook up with an unappetizing texture.
Number three: Soaking time. The consensus with cooking brown rice seems to either require a pressure cooker or longer cooking time to break down the tougher outer bran coating. Uh, no. Mine takes the same time as white rice to cook.
The solution to cooking brown rice that tastes better than white rice by leaps and bounds is actually amazingly simple – buy the right type and soak well in advance.
This produces wonderfully chewy yet fluffy rice that is more flavorful and fragrant than white rice. And reap the health benefits that come along with it. Win-win-win-win. Okay so listen up here’s what you do.
1. Buy ‘Thai Hom Mali Brown Rice‘ which has a wonderful jasmine rice fragrance and a rather conservative shade of creamy brown. The color of the bran is just a few shades darker than white, perhaps a few shades lighter than sand color. This is the one you want to get! I usually buy organic. Stay away from the coarser red rice type.
2. Next, you want to soak your brown rice for as long as you can in the day. If you’re having the rice for dinner, soak in the morning. Rinse and let soak, a no brainer and close to zero effort required. By evening when its time to cook, the rice would’ve been soaking for a good part of the day and will take literally minutes to cook. My rice averages between 17 minutes – 25 minutes on the stovetop.
Some extra tips and troubleshooting:
- Use the right amount of water, fluff rice when cooked and let steam for 5-10 minutes before serving. Brown rice requires between 1.5 – 2 times the amount of water, more than white rice. And the finished rice should be plump and cooked through, retaining some chewiness. If too mushy, you used too much water. If hard and dry, add more water next time. For the former, drain out the excess water and leave the lid agar to let excess moisture evaporate. And for the latter, add a bit more water and let stew on low heat a few more minutes.
- For the stovetop method, if the cooked rice sticks to the bottom (meaning either the flame was too hot or you didn’t add enough water), no problem. Remove the pot immediately and place on a thermal mat. Condensation of steam inside will soften the crispy bottom and make it easier to scoop out and clean.
Now that you’ve learnt the friggin’ easy art of cooking kickass delicious brown rice at home, I’m sure you’ll want more stimulation. Or maybe you just want a more exciting way of mopping up those leftovers. And you don’t have time. So wave your hands to make this Coconut Brown Rice appear right in front of you.
No kidding, its that fast.
Coconut Brown Rice (modified from Chef In You)
You will need for 2-3 servings:
- 1/2 cup brown rice grains, soaked than cooked as per above method.
- 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
- 1/4-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp urad dal
- a pinch of asafoetida (optional. Adds more flavor)
- 2-3 dried red chillis
- a sprig of curry leaves (about 8 leaves or so)
1. Start by tempering spices. Heat up a pan with 2-3 tsp oil. Add in this order mustard seeds, urad dal, cumin seeds, asafoetida, red chillis then curry leaves. Don’t let the spices burn. Urad dal especially changes color very fast. Also be careful when adding curry leaves because the oil will start to spatter wildly so take the pan off the heat for a while if needed.
2. Now add coconut. Stir and cook till slightly brown and starts to get a toasty fragrance. Yum. Now add in your brown rice, stir to mix and let cook for a few minutes more to let the flavors combine.
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Done! The coconut makes this taste buttery and rich, while the spices lend a nutty aroma doing away with the need for elaborate frying like in fried rice.
*Optional for better taste:
If you can be bothered to whip out the chopping board, adding garlic and onion would enhance flavors. I might try with 1-2 cloves garlic and 1/2 med onion the next time.
Cheers and good luck with cooking delicious healthy brown rice at home 😀