Rice

Rice

By
Greg Malouf, Lucy Malouf
Contains
5 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708423
Photographer
Alan Benson

Rice originated in the East as many as twelve thousand years ago and we can largely thank Arab traders for delivering it to the rest of the world. It is a grain that arouses fierce loyalty and passionate devotion, and in many cultures it is the axis around which every meal revolves.

Although rice is not indigenous to the Middle East, it has been eagerly embraced by the countries that make up the region; with Turks and Iranians elevating ricecookery to a culinary art form. (We firmly believe the legendary tah deeg – the crunchy, golden base of Persian polows – is an art well worth mastering!) Rice is most often served as a stomach-filling accompaniment to grills or braises, sometimes flavoured with aromatics or drizzled with a buttery saffron liquid. But it can also form the heart of the dish itself, cooked together with other ingredients. This is a technique which is at its zenith in sophisticated Turkish pilafs, Persian polows and Arab biryanistyle dishes.

In the main, Middle Easterners use long-grain rice varieties, as these tend to be the least starchy, making them ideal for dishes where the individual grains are intended to remain distinctly dry, fluffy and separate after cooking. Shorter-grain rice is also used, but primarily for stuffings, where it is required to clump together stickily.

Early in his cooking career, Greg spent a whole year making risotto in a restaurant in the north of Italy, and it’s a dish he never tires of. So, while it’s not a Middle Eastern technique, we are convinced that creamy risottos work very well with Middle Eastern ingredients. We couldn’t resist including an example here.

And, finally, as in the West, the shortest grained rice of all is used for puddings. In some Middle Eastern countries entire stores are dedicated to this style of milk-based dessert.

Recipes in this Chapter

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