The Vegetarian



Rice is one of the easiest dishes to make, it stores well, and is very versatile. It can be served with curries or stir-fries, or even added to soups to make them more filling. If you choose a healthy variety it can be very nutritious.

The healthiest varieties include Basmati and Doongara for a low glycaemic index. In general Brown rice, red rice, wild rice is better than white rice, and long grains are better than short grains. However, it is not always that straightforward. The following website has the most complete listing of rice glycaemic indices I have found:

Keep in mind that glycaemic index is not the only determinant of the "healthiness" of a food. Brown rices, red rices and wild rices also tend to have more vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Cooking rice is simplest if you have a rice-cooker, and in general if you are going to eat rice quite regularly a rice-cooker is essential. Having a rice-cooker means that you can set it and walk away to prepare something else. While the rice is cooking you can have the rest of your meal prepared and easily have a great meal prepared in 30minutes.

However, if you do not have a rice-cooker try this method for cooking rice.

Wash 2 cups of rice and place in pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil, and then turn down to a slow simmer and cover with a lid. A glass (transparent) lid makes the process easier still. The rice will need at least 20 minutes, when the grains appear cooked and the water all absorbed, let it stand for a further 10 minutes with the lid on - this helps the rice to fluff up and come away from the sides of the pot. Finally, use a wooden chopstick to stir the rice and break it up before serving.

Rice will keep for a couple of days in the fridge after cooking, and can easily be microwaved after sprinkling with a little water to bring it back to its original fluffiness. It cannot be kept warm for more than a few hours or it will spoil - it develops a rancid smell, and the moist areas become sticky to touch.

Tips for particular rices:
Old rice - the older the rice the more water it absorbs in cooking.
Basmati rice - requires more water than other rices, usually use about 1/2 cup extra compared to other rices
Red rice - commonly used in Sri Lanka, may be quite fibrous in texture so mix half and half with a white rice when first trialling. Be careful you may have to check for stones in this rice.

 Gingered Rice

This is a variation of the recipe from "The World Vegetarian Cookbook", I've amended the recipe for cooking in a rice-cooker.

2 rice-cooker cups of rice (180ml size cup)
1 inch of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
1 vegetable stock cube
2 spring onions
handful of coriander leaves
+/-1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder

Wash the rice and drain (I leave it to sit in a sieve while I prepare the other ingredients).

Peel and slice up the ginger and garlic, then pulverise it with a mortar and pestle. Remember to cut the ginger across the grain/fibres (transversely or cross-ways), so that you are not left with long strands of fibre.

In a non-stick pan place a tablespoon of oil (and the chilli powder), on medium heat fry the ginger and garlic until just starting to brown. Then add the previously washed and drained rice. Stir the mixture on medium heat for 3 minutes, until all the rice grains are coated in oil.

Then place the mixture into a rice-cooker. Dissolve the stock cube in a couple of tablespoons of water and add to the mixture. Fill the rice cooker with water to the recommended line for 2 cups of rice and let the rice-cooker cook the rice.

Wash and slice the spring onions, wash and tear apart the coriander leaves. When the rice is done, stir the spring onion and coriander leaves through the rice and serve.

  Vegetarian Fried Rice

Vegetarian fried rice is a common recipe throughout Asia. It is a great way to use up your left over rice and vegetables! ...and makes a quick and easy meal. The proportions for this dish are not exact, the more you experiment, the easier it is to make this dish from whatever leftovers you have.

- Here are the portions for 1 person:

1 cup cooked Rice - any type, pre-cooked and left open for a few hours to dry (this means that rice left in the fridge from the night before is perfect)
1 cup of vegetables - chopped up as necessary
olive oil
1 egg
1/2 onion - sliced
soy sauce
+/- vegetarian sausages or tofu -sliced
+/- curry leaves
+/- red chilli flakes
+/- garlic - sliced and crushed

Large non-stick Wok.

The cup of vegetables can include any vegetables that do not go mushy with cooking. My favourite vegetables for fried rice are: Mushrooms, carrots, peas (frozen) and green beans.
The picture shows a fried rice that was made with carrot, zucchini, mushrooms, some left over radish, bean sprouts, vegetarian bacon and served with spring onions and tomatoes.

First brown the onions in a large non-stick wok with half a tablespoon of oil (add the garlic, curry leaves, chilli and vegie sausage if using them) on medium high heat.
Add the vegetables and continue to stir and fry. (remember to add dense vegies such as carrot or broccoli stalks first - as they require more cooking, and leave leafy vegetables or vegetables with high water content such as bean sprouts or capsicum until later). Sprinkle a little salt over the vegetables as they are cooking.

When the vegetables are slightly browning, push to the sides of the pan. Add an egg to the middle of the pan where the area has been cleared of vegetables. Add a little more oil if necessary (if your pan is not very non-stick). Scramble the egg first separately and then mix into the vegies.

Add the rice, and use the flat back of a spoon or spatula to crush the rice so that the grains fall apart. Add a dash of soy sauce and continue to stir and break up the rice until all the grains are separated and evenly coated in a light golden colour from the soy sauce.

Taste test. Add a little more soy sauce and mix thoroughly. Stop at "too little salt" rather than "too much salt", as the dish can be served with sauces including soy sauce on the side.

serve and enjoy... making fried rice this way is obviously much healthier than the variety you buy from a take-away shop!

The Sri Lankan variation of fried rice should always have some chilli and curry leaves added. The Thai variation is served with a small dish of soy sauce with sliced red chilli.


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