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Apart from wheat, this is the most widely cultivated cereal in the world, growing in tropical, equatorial and temperate zones. Rice is always eaten cooked, either hot or cold, as a sweet or savory dish. The largest consumers worldwide are China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Bangladesh followed by Latin America and Africa. Growing on both dry and swampy and irrigated land, rice was known and cultivated in China more than 3000 years ago. It seems, however, that the rice plant may have originated in Southern India, then spread to the north of the country and then to China. Later it arrived in Korea, the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. The Persians imported rice to Mesopotamia and Turkistan and Alexander the Great, who invaded India in 327 B.C., brought it to Greece. It was the crusaders who also introduced rice into France. Varieties of Rice: There are two main varieties of rice, the sub species indica (long grain) which has long grains that separate when cooked and the sub species japonica, with round grains that stick together when cooked. There are also various intermediate types. Rice is classified, according to the processing that it undergoes after harvesting, into the following: 1. Paddy Rice: unhusked rice in its raw state with no further treatment after threshing (contains 20 to 25% moisture)
Brown Rice: also known as husked or whole rice, it is rice with the outer husk removed, having a characteristic beige color. The rice retains some of the starch, vitamin B and phosphorus.
3. White Rice: brown rice from which the germ and the outer layers of the perricarp have been removed by passing the grain through machines that rasp the grain; it is also called unpolished rice. 4. Polished Rice: white rice that has been passed through machines that remove any flour still adhering to the grain. 5. Steamed or pretreated rice: paddy rice that has been meticulously cleaned, soaked in hot water, steamed at a low pressure and then dehusked and blanched. 6. Puffed Rice: in India it is roasted and fried on hot sand; in the United States it is treated to high pressure and low pressure. 7. Wild Rice: the seed of an aquatic grass, related to the rice plant, which comes from the northern United States. The seeds grow one by one up the stock and resemble little black sticks; it is very expensive and is sometimes mixed with brown rice.
Basmati Rice: Indian rice with very small but long grains, with a distinctive flavor. Old Basmati is highly prized by Indians and Pakistanis.
9. Sticky Rice: long grain rice with a very high starch content; rarely available, it is suitable for Chinese cookery.
Rice flakes: rice that is steamed, husked, and then flattened into thin flakes; it is eaten for breakfast with milk and sugar. Rice semolina, ground rice, and rice flour: these are made by grinding fragments of very white rice; they are used in making cakes and pastries and to thicken sauces.
Cooking and Preparation: Rice can absorb a great deal of liquid and will soak up water, milk, oil, or stock according to the recipe. The whole art of cooking rice is to ensure that the grains remain a little firm (al dente) but not hard, that they are separate, And that they retain their flavor (these criteria do not apply to rice cooked in milk). Unless it is pre-cooked or pre-treated, rice should always be washed In running water and drained well before being cooked. There are four different methods of cooking rice:
In water - The rice is poured into the pan with twice its volume of cold water, brought to the boil, and cooked with the pan covered until all the water is absorbed. Alternatively, it can be poured in- to a large quantity of boiling water, brought back to the boil, cooked uncovered, then drained. Yet another method is to pour the rice into boiling salted water, simmer for 10 minutes, wash in cold water, drain, and put in a covered dish in a cool oven until cooking is complete. Rice cooked in water, termed a la Creole or d 1'indienne, is particularly suitable for mixed salads and as a garnish for meat or fish. Steamed -The rice, previously washed in cold water, is placed in a steamer over boiling water for 20-40 minutes (according to the variety); sometimes it is blanched for a few minutes before being placed in the steamer. Alternatively, the rinsed rice may be put into a saucepan with one and a half times its volume of water, brought to the boil, and cooked with the pan tightly sealed until all the water has been absorbed. Steamed rice is eaten plain or as a garnish. In milk - This is the standard way of cooking all rice desserts. The rice is blanched in boiling water, rinsed, drained, and cooked slowly in milk, which
may he flavored in some way, until it attains the consistency of a creamy paste. It is then garnished, molded, or flavored in various ways.