There are so many different rices in India – what we see here is one small fraction of the varieties across India. Many varieties are regional and rices are not only white, but brown, black and red too. There are other grains very common in areas, ones that we never hear of here, sadly. For example there are a dozen or more varieties of millet. And here? One or two varieties.
However we can cook our locally grown grains with Indian flavours, there is nothing to stop us doing that, right? For example, I will often cook up a grain with tomatoes, onions, chillies and curry leaves. It is that easy. This method can be used with quinoa, millet, buckwheat, freekeh, pearl barley, many rices, amaranth, and so on. Today I have cooked up a pot of glutinous black rice and given it the same treatment. It is a hearty and gorgeous accompaniment to the meal. Because black rice is quite assertive, we have paired it with more subtle dishes, but if you are using quinoa or moriya, for example, you can boost up the flavour levels of the accompaniments.
BTW India has black rices too, and from what I gather they are very similar to the black rice that we can get from our Asian stores here.
Most people I know associate glutinous rice with a sweet, divine pudding from S. E. Asia. But glutinous rice can be used in savoury dishes as well. I love the nutty crunchiness of it. If you are a kindred spirit in that you love breakfasts that break the mould of cereal-and-toast, then this is the best of breakfast dishes. Black rice is very warming to the body, so it is a great Winter Morning dish. You could add mushrooms.
Black Rice (or other Grains) with Curry Leaves and Tomato
this feeds 2 – 3 people as an accompaniment to other dishes
0.5 cups black glutinous rice, or enough of another grain to give 1 cup of when it is soaked
1 – 2 Tblspn ghee
0.5 tspn black mustard seeds
0.5 tspn cumin seeds
1 Indian dried red chilli, pinched or broken in 2
15 fresh curry leaves
1 onion, chopped finely
1 green chilli, chopped finely (or to taste)
1cm piece ginger root, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped finely or pureed
pinch black pepper
0.5 tspn coriander powder
pinch only of Indian red chilli powder (optional)
squeeze fresh lemon juice
coriander leaves, onion rings or spring onions, for garnish
Soak the black rice overnight. Drain and add to a pan with 200ml of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 35 – 40 minutes, stirring every now and again. The rice will be well cooked with a starchy consistency.
If using another grain, cook according to its instructions.
Heat the ghee in a kadhai or medium saucepan, and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop then add the red chilli and cumin seeds, tossing it in the oil a little until the cumin seeds are golden. Add the curry leaves (they will splatter) and then the onions.
Saute over a medium heat until the onions are golden, then add the green chilli and ginger, and saute for another minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric, coriander powder, black pepper and pinch of chilli powder (if using). Cook until the moisture from the tomatoes has mostly evaporated.
Stir in the cooked rice into the tomato mixture and heat through. Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve with coriander, onion rings, lemon wedges and/or spring onions.
recipe notes and alternatives
Black rice mixes well with white rice, and the white rice lightens the intense flavour of the black rice. Cook black and white rices separately, using a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 black rice to white rice when cooked. Make the tomato mix, increasing the amounts of all ingredients by a little less than the same amount (ie a little less than double for 1:1, and a little less than half again for 2:1).
Mix the black rice with the tomato mix, as per the recipe, and when it is well mixed, add in the white rice and mix again. It is a great use for left over rice.
Having the rices at room temperature works well – they mix very easily at this temperature.