How to Make Tasty Brown Rice

Rice's darker variety isn't just good because of the bran and B-vitamins.

Majadera with brown rice, sweet potatoes and mushroomsLimor Laniado Tiroche

Brown rice is healthier than white rice - that's not news. But is there truth to the rumor that brown rice is less tasty? Well, white rice will do a better job soaking up flavors and sauces, but if a rice dish is a main dish, brown rice is far more suitable thanks to its rich taste.

After cooking a pot of brown rice using the recipe below, you'll realize that brown rice is tasty, filling and much better for your body than any other rice. The rice's husk contains vital nutrients like bran, B-vitamins, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Brown rice gets digested more slowly than white rice, so the body's sugar balance is maintained and it takes longer to get hungry again.

Unlike white rice, brown rice takes planning because if you don't presoak it you'll wind up with a dense and sticky mess. Soaking the rice overnight in a bowl of water outside the refrigerator neutralizes the husk's bitterness and yields less sticky kernels.

Whereas white rice's taste and texture is damaged by refrigeration, brown rice can be kept in the fridge for four or five days and maintain its consistency. It's best to make a pot of plain rice and store it without anything added. Then you can stir-fry it with vegetables and spices, a different variety each day. You can also make fried rice patties seasoned with herbs, or a rich salad with seasonal vegetables, and add it to soups and stews.

Health-food stores and supermarkets sell three varieties of brown rice. Brown basmati rice has long, slender, delicate grains. I think this is the tastiest of the bunch. It's aromatic, delicate and it isn't sticky, while its flavor is similar to white rice's.

Brown Persian rice has shorter and rounder grains. It's a bit stickier than Basmati, but its dominant flavor is excellent.

Brown round rice is sticky, heavy and dense; it's better suited for risotto and even sushi.

Majadera with brown rice, sweet potatoes & mushrooms

Ingredients (4 servings ):

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions, sliced into thin half-rings

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced small

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup black lentils, presoaked for 2 hours and strained

1 basket baby Portobello mushrooms, cut into slices

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 cups cooked rice (made from 1/2 cup uncooked rice )

2 tablespoons reduced balsamic vinegar

1 cup cilantro leaves, washed and dried

Preparation:

Add oil to a deep frying pan or a wok and fry the onions on a medium flame until browned. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Arrange the sweet-potato cubes in a roasting pan, sprinkle with olive oil and salt, and roast until soft for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place the lentils in a small pot, add a generous amount of water and cook for 15 minutes. Drain. Add the mushrooms to the pan with the browned onions and stir-fry for three minutes. Add sweet potatoes and spices and fry for another five minutes. Add the cooked rice, lentils and balsamic vinegar and fry for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add cilantro leaves, stir, adjust the seasonings and serve.

Brown rice & beets

Ingredients (4-6 servings ):

2 medium beets, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

8 scallions, chopped including the green part

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

3 cups cooked brown rice (made from 3/4 cup uncooked rice )

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preparation:

Grate the beets on a kitchen grater or the grating blade of a food processor. Add olive oil to a deep frying pan or a wok and fry the garlic and half the scallions on a medium flame for two minutes.

Add the grated beets and stir-fry for five minutes. Add white wine and spices and cook for another five minutes. Add the cooked rice, Parmesan and lemon juice, and fry for another five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rest of the scallions, stir, adjust seasonings and serve.