Rice: Indian Favorites

The pantry discusses how I shop and stock the various staples, roots, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and condiments that I use in my kitchen. In addition to describing the ingredients and their uses, I describe shopping while paying attention to freshness, stocking levels and shelf life, with my complete shopping list.

And since choosing fresh whole plant ingredients, I’ve found my freezer, and even my refrigerator, became less and less full, until it was no longer needed.

The kitchen is where I explain the basics and details of cooking methods, that are used in the recipes. Also tips and troubles that cut across multiple recipes, are understood in the context of the cooking method.

First how a recipe is structured, so you know what to expect. Second a soak simmer and steam method for cooking brown rice. (This is often just called steamed rice.) These steps work with both sauce pan and rice cooker, regardless if you use lots of water, or just enough.

Breakfast tends to be quick, more so than other meals. Meals are single dishes paired with fresh fruits. The secret to breakfasts is preparation, either use of convenience foods like parboiled rice flakes or with evening preparation of pancake batters. Because breakfast dishes are quick, they may also be served as snacks.

My everyday breakfast dishes are rice flakes or rice and lentil pancakes. Two widely different recipes. Both are simple. But flakes are quick and pancakes take a preparation. This is because flakes are parboiled and flattened, and don’t even require cooking. While pancake batter is ground fresh in the kitchen from whole grains and lentils. Flakes are similar to European quick rolled oats. European pancakes use milled flour.

My lunch dishes are soups and salads. These soups and salads, by using rice as the main starch, are very hearty and satisfying. With left over rice from yesterday dinner, lunch can be quick. Lunch is often eaten away from home. The cold rice salads in particular keep well and make good travel food.

Lunch can also be a warm up for dinner, and left over lunch soups and salads can become side dishes for dinner. By cooking two dishes at lunch, and two dishes at dinner, I can have four dishes at the dinner table. Lunch allows more cooking time the breakfast, and lunch is good time to start dinner preparations, such as soaking rice and lentils.

My dinner dishes are often are mixed rice, which combine brown rice with a featured vegetable, like onion, carrot or tomato. With rice as the main starch, these are hearty and satisfying dishes. That’s my alternate when I don’t make a flavorful slow cooked curry and plain rice, and curries deserve their own space.

My everyday dinner dishes are pilafs, when I don’t make plain rice. Pilafs are simmered in stock and absorb the flavor base and spiced stock. My fancy dinner dish is biryani. Biryani are baked layered dishes, and they absorb the flavor similar to a pilaf, but in the oven slowly and gently.

Variety in taste and texture comes from soups and salads, often made in the afternoon for lunch and having improved in flavor with resting. Dinners are my biggest meal. Usually the meal with the most dishes, the most preparation, and often the most clean up.