Aromatic Rice: A Delicious Story

For years, when I wanted to emulate the fragrant, fluffy rice that I loved eating in Southeast Asian and Indian restaurants, I had to make a special trip to the ethnic food store. When I did make the effort, white varieties were the only options available. Today, however, most supermarkets offer an almost confusing array of aromatic Asian rice varieties (think jasmine and basmati) notable for their lovely, nutty perfume.

Unlike years past, much of the rice we purchase today is domestically grown in Texas or California. Luckily, this means their current price and availability are more influenced by local conditions than by the weather and economic factors affecting the rice fields in Asia.

Basmati rice, which originated in India, is the longest grain rice of all. When it is soaked before cooking (the traditional Indian way), top quality basmati can produce grains nearly two inches long. Jasmine rice, which hails from Thailand, falls somewhere between a long-grain and medium-grain rice. It cooks up softer and is stickier than basmati.

The more delicate flavor of brown aromatic rice makes it an excellent choice for those just starting to eat whole grains. These varieties cook a bit faster than other whole-grain types, while still providing the fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals that make traditional brown rice a nutritional powerhouse.

This week’s Caribbean-inspired meatless dish features brown jasmine rice. It goes perfectly with the black beans and the tropical flavors of the pineapple, ginger and coconut. It’s a filling dish and can be enjoyed as a side or eaten alone as a satisfying main meal.

Rice and Black Beans with Pineapple - Makes 5 servings.

* 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
* 3/4 cup chopped onion
* 1 garlic clove, chopped
* 2 tsp. grated or finely chopped ginger
* 3/4 cup brown jasmine rice, uncooked
* 1/8 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
* 1/2 cup reduced-fat coconut milk
* 1 cup fat free, reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
* 1 cup water
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 2/3 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained
* 2 Tbsp. chopped scallions, green and white parts
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

In medium Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onions until translucent, 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in ginger, cooking until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Mix rice and pepper flakes into onions until grains glisten. Add coconut milk, broth and 1 cup water. Bring liquid to a boil, cover tightly and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until rice is tender and moist, 45-50 minutes. Let pot sit, covered, off heat for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, mix in beans, pineapple and scallions. Season rice to taste with salt and pepper. If necessary, cover and reheat over medium-low heat. Serve immediately, in wide, shallow bowls, garnished with cilantro. Makes 5 cups.

Per serving: 225 calories, 5 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 39 g carbohydrate, 7 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 220 mg sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

AICR’s Nutrition Hotline is a free service that allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. Access it online at www.aicr.org/hotline or by phone (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers. It has provided more than $78 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org.

Article Source: Aicr.org

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