Rice with a Twist: Transforming the Mundane and Boring

Ajwain rice spiced with cardamon pod, cinnamon stick, and shredded cilantro. Also on the plate are field greens and a sliced heirloom tomato from my CSA, plus my mixed bean dish.

“I cook rice.”

You say, “What’s the big deal?  Tis easy!  Ratio of 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water, heat to boil, simmer until water absorbed and you are done.  They even have rice cookers for those of us who are kitchen challenged, or too lazy to monitor and determine when the rice is done.  No risk of burning at all, and the rice kept nice and warm.”

“True, very true… But, how about changing things up a bit?”

I did just that.

Cooking 2 cups of organic long grain brown rice in 4 cups of water I added a new item: 1/3 teaspoon of ajwain seeds.  I had first seen ajwain/carom seeds added to bread dough by my mom some years back.  But what was the connection – for me – from bread to rice? Why and how did I make that leap?

Previously, I had used whole cumin seeds when cooking rice, and it is a common Indian spice additive.  Both ajwain and cumin seeds are whole seed spices, with similar yet still distinctively different taste profiles.  Ajwain imparts a particularly pungent and bitter aromatic flavor.  I connected two similar spices (cumin and ajwain) used in cooking carbohydrates (rice and bread) and made the switch.  I tried ajwain once, liked the end result, and now I have a new simple way to make rice with a difference.

Creativity in cooking is not about big changes and complicated procedures and processes.  It can be as little as switching an ingredient, making a connection between your current use in one carbohydrate (bread) and trying it in a different one – rice.  Other items that I have successfully used include cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, cilantro and a whole cayenne pepper.

The final step?  Presentation.  Food that looks good stimulates the appetite.  To freshly prepared steaming rice I added some shredded cilantro.  With my mixed bean dish to the side, and field greens from my CSA, we have a feast for all the senses – sight, smell and taste. Bon Appetit!

N.B. 9/3/12. I just read this article on Oprah.com where Ted Allen changes common dinners by changing one ingredient in the dish.



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