I can’t live without rice. When I grew up in Malaysia, usually two out of the three meals each day were consisted of rice. Do you know nearly half of the world’s population eat rice as part of their staple diet? It is not uncommon for Asians to consume rice for lunch and dinner, sometimes even nasi lemak (the national rice dish in Malaysia) for breakfast! Even now, I still eat rice at least once a week, otherwise I feel strange, it feels like something is missing in my diet. There are many types of rice in the market including jasmine, bomba, brown, glutinous, wild, aborio, shari sushi rice and many others, are generally good for you. Having said that, even in the rice universe, some are better than others. I used to eat a lot of jasmine rice which is high in carbohydrate and it tends to make you put on weight easily. So I have cut down jasmine rice significantly and replaced with healthier options like brown and Basmati rice. Brown rice is not always everyone’s favourite rice to eat so between the two, I would have to say Basmati rice is more similar to Jasmine and less starchy.
Basmati means “the fragrant one” due to its fragrant aroma, the long slender grains have a delicious slightly ‘nutty’ taste yet light and fluffy in texture. Basmati is often dubbed as the “Prince of rice” as it is an extremely healthy grain – it is gluten free, low in fat, sodium and no cholesterol. Basmati is a very unique grain, which can only be grown in one place on earth – the Himalayan foothills. To this day, Basmati is still harvested by hand to ensure none of the precious grains are lost.
If you are looking for basmati rice, Tilda® Pure Basmati is possibly one of the best rice brands available at the supermarkets. Tilda® is the UK’s number one Basmati brand and now available in Australia and you should be able to find them at Coles or Woolworths. Tilda® Basmati rice is available in ready-to-heat pouches and there are eight different varieties to choose from.
You see, I am old school, I prefer to cook my own rice from scratch, you know, by adding water to the rice and then cook them using a rice cooker. So I was pretty skeptical about this already cooked rice where all I have to do is to reheat the rice in microwave for 2 minutes. From past experience, the reheated rice in a packet tends to be soggy, stuck in clumps and inedible. Since the Basmati rice has less starch than Jasmine, so it was nice to see the rice stayed fluffy in individual grains when it came out of the packet after being microwaved.
I’ve decided to put the 2-minute Tilda® Pure Basmati rice to the test and created two recipes. Both dishes worked like a charm and needless to say, it reduced the cooking time significantly since I don’t have to bother cooking the rice myself.
The first dish I’ve created is a southern Louisiana classic – Gumbo. But of course there is nothing classic about my version by using simple ingredients that are more accessible here in Australia. This is a Cajun style gumbo which is generally based on a French dark roux, with shellfish and sausage. In my case, I used prawns (or shrimp as they called it) and Spanish spicy chorizo to substitute the andouille sausage. Then served with the Tilda® Pure Basmati rice which adds another layer of nutty flavour to the dish.
Even though it says to reheat the rice in microwave for 2 minutes before serving, I actually prepared my next dish by using the rice straight out of the packet and created a delicious Sichimi togarashi smoked salmon fried rice. To make a good fried rice, the rice has to be a little dry so it doesn’t stick when cooking. That’s why many people prefer to keep the rice in the fridge overnight to draw the moisture out before using it for fried rice. The Tilda® Pure Basmati rice worked like a treat as it was already nice and dry in the packet, so it saved me from cooking rice a day in advance. This dish is super easy to prepare under 10 minutes, all you have to do is fry an omelette, then stir fry the rice with soy sauce, toss in smoked salmon flakes and sichimi togarashi and voila! A delicious Japanese-Chinese fusion fried rice like no others. Give it a try!
Prawn and Chorizo Gumbo
500g fresh raw prawns, peeled and keep the shells
1 spicy chorizo, cut into thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1/2 green capsicum, cut into 1cm cubes
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 packets Tilda pure basmati rice
1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add prawn shells and fry for 8-10 minutes until the essence has released into the oil. Remove the shells and put them in another clean saucepan then add 1 litre of water and bring to boil. Turn heat to low and let it simmer until ready to be used.
2. Add chorizo to the same prawn oil and fry for 5 minutes or until slightly burned on the edge. Remove chorizo from the pan and set aside. Add garlic, onion, celery and capsicum, sautéed until the onion is soft and translucent. Add cajun seasoning,
3. Melt butter in the same pan, then add flour and mix well. Keep stirring until the flour is slightly brown, add cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika, stir and mix well.
4. Slowly pour in the prawn stock one cup at a time, whisking constantly to make sure there is no lump. Put the chorizo back in the pan, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add prawns and let it cook for another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in half of the parsley and season with salt if needed.
5. Microwave Tilda Pure Basmati in for 2 minutes according to the instructions on the packet. Serve gumbo over the rice, garnish with remaining parsley.
Sichimi togarashi smoked salmon fried rice
2 eggs, whisked
4 tablespoons olive oil
2cm ginger, thinly julienned
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 packet Tilda pure basmati
1 tablespoon soy sauce
150g smoked salmon, shred into small pieces plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon sichimi togarashi plus extra for garnish
1 handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
salt, to taste
1.Whisk eggs with 1 tablespoon of water, season with salt and mix well. Add 2 tablespoons oil to a non stick frying pan over medium heat. pour egg mixture into pan and fry for 2 minutes or until lightly brown, flip over and fry for another minute. Transfer omelette to a chopping board until is cool enough to handle. Roll the omelette into a log, then slice thinly.
2. Heat remaining oil in the same pan, sautéed garlic and ginger for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Turn heat to medium-low, add rice and soy sauce, stir until combined. Add salmon and sichimi togarashi, give it a quick stir to mix well and remove from heat.
3. Serve rice in individual serving bowls, place omelette rolls on top then garnish with more salmon and sichimi togarashi and parsley. Serve immediately.