I've always been convinced that white rice is best for South Indian food - Sona Masoori rice, for preference. Even basmati rice, that queen of all rice, comes second here... if only because its own heavenly aroma and flavour tend to get downplayed by the competing flavours of the accompanying dishes. Sona masoori rice, however, is the perfect vehicle to exhibit the pungent, spicy, hot, sour and piquant flavours that are the trademark of South Indian dishes such as sambar, rasam, kootu etc, without itself taking centre stage.
So with sona masoori and basmati rice in my pantry, I was not sure that brown rice would play a big role in my cooking. Still, when I came across a small packet of brown basmati rice in the supermarket, I impulsively bought it.
It was surprising how long it took to cook the rice - way more than any white rice, and the typical aroma of basmati wasn't immediately evident either. Since I didn't quite know what to make with the cooked brown rice, I decided to make a sort of vegetable fried rice, only without too much of the frying.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of the brown basmati. It was chewy in a nice way, with a flavour reminiscent of "aval" or "poha" (beaten rice). I liked it a lot, and while it will not be replacing my beloved sona masoori or Tilda basmati any time soon for traditional Southie dishes, I think I will be using brown rice a lot more in other areas. It's nice to no longer be a brown rice virgin!
Recipe for: Curried brown rice
3 cups brown basmati rice, cooked and cooled
1/2 cup green beans, sliced into thin rounds
1 medium potato, chopped into 1/2 cm pieces
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 scallion, sliced thin
2 green chillies, sliced vertically
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp sambar powder
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and green chillies. Fry for 40 seconds or till the seeds turn a darker shade of brown.
2. Add the vegetables to the pan now and stir, then pour in 1/8 cup water, cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the vegetables steam-cook till done.
3. Now add the red chilli powder and sambar powder to the cooked vegetables along with salt to taste, and mix it well. Turn the heat up and let the vegetables caramelize a little.
4. Throw in the cooked brown rice and stir till everything is well mixed.
5. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with a raita, if preferred.