Rice is nice
Simple, comforting and a one pot dish, these rice dishes are unique in their own way
It is thought-provoking to note that the staple food of more than half the globe is a rice dish and is known by dissimilar names such as our biryani or pulao, jambalaya from the southern United States, bokumbap from Korea, Spanish paella, Chinese chau fan, the Greek pilafi and Italian risotto.
All of these structures cooking in ‘one pot or pan’, with native produce and spices, give each their own appetising characteristics. And although the preparation methods are common, the ingredients are a closely guarded secret and each is different based on the marination and ingredients.
Paella is the name of the flat round pan in which the dish is made and served. The rice, seasoned and coloured with classic Spanish saffron, is traditionally cooked outdoors over an open fire. Jambalaya is a one pot dish with meat; the vegetables, rice and stock have originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, by the cajuns around the bayou where food was scarce, as opposed to the richer part of Louisiana. The Creole jambalaya uses tomatoes as base and relies on butter and cream for its rich taste. It includes meats like sausage and chicken. The cajun jambalaya, with a brown sauce base, is more rustic and is made with animal fat, and is spicier.
For the Chinese chau fan, prior to frying the rice, one needs to stir fry the ingredients (any you like) until cooked. The rice is then added to the wok. In Korea, women often add a fried egg on top with a light soup, to prepare bokumbap. Greek pilafi is cooked in broth with onions and spices and meat, usually chicken.
A good risotto should be saucy in consistency and flow like magma. As for biryani, just the name gets us drooling. Made with spices and pieces of meat or chicken, every section in India has its own distinct recipe, from the Lucknawi to the Hyderabadi and the Sindhi to the Kacchi variant, we have them all.
Chef making Paella