Representing one-fifth of the calories consumed by humans worldwide, and with records of rice consumption dating back to 2800BC, I think it’s fair to say that rice is a pretty great grain.
When we heard that The Rice Association was taking over the week to highlight the ease, versatility and deliciousness of utilising this super seed, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the ways different countries recommend you spice up your rice.
Popular in India, Bengal and Nepal, thali is somewhat akin to tapas. It comprises a selection of small dishes, each one made to represent a taste – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy. Yum. For excellent thali, why not try Shamrat in Maidstone or The Cinnamon Tree in Cardiff?
Hailing from northern Italy, risotto is a rice dish that’s cooked in a broth to create a creamy consistency. It’s often served as a primo, before the main course and requires quite a bit of stirring to reach the perfect consistency. Alternatively, cut out the arm ache and head to Grays Restaurant in Chesterton or Stac Polly in Edinburgh.
For something sweet, look to Japan. This glutinous dessert is created by pounding rice into a paste, and is made during its very own ceremony, named mochitsuki. Sample it for yourself at Sushinoen in London or by visiting Wabi in Horsham.
A dish doesn’t get more versatile than paella. The original ancient Valencian recipe is said to have contained green and white beans, chicken and rabbit, snails and, of course, rice. While chefs may differ on what ingredients they think are essential, most will agree that that the sign of a good paella is a layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan, named socarrat in Spanish. El Sabio in Newbury is known to make an excellent vegetable variety, while Quiddles Café in Portland showcases its seafood-filled version on Thursdays.
Stuffed with ragu and cheese, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, arancini are a thing of heaven. They are said to have originated in 10th-century Sicily, when the island was under Arab rule, and are now widely available thanks to their ever-growing popularity. Places to visit for their delicious arancini include Al Forno in London and Mambo Wine & Dine in South Shields.
To discover more places where you can learn how to spice up your rice, or to simply enjoy scrumptious fare visit our website, or pop into your local Waitrose and pick up your region’s guide.