Forget about Masterchef (enter your country here) for a moment.
Just steam/boil some regular white rice. As Indians, we lay claim to the finest, long grained, most aromatic Basmati variety – which I know is available most everywhere. But you could also substitute a local variety, or even brown rice. For boiling, the ratio of rice:water is 1:2 as a rule of thumb.
Add some star anise to the rice water – it’s aromatic and imparts a lovely touch of flavour.
Keep some butter handy. As much (not little) as you’d like.
Also some Creole seasoning – my favourite brand is the American Zatarain’s. It’s got a nice, salty-spicy kick and is a lovely almost-scarlet in colour.
Some sliced black olives. Some pickled-in-vinegar whole green peppercorns.
And some chopped parsley.
When the rice is done, drain the water through a colander and remove the star anise. Add a couple of chunks of butter of the rice while it’s still hot, so that the butter melts. Sprinkle the Creole seasoning generously and mix well. Add the peppercorns and the olives. Garnish with the chopped parsley.
An easy-peasy (sorry, couldn’t resist) and quick optional addition is boiled green peas.
It doesn’t have an overpowering taste like a ‘biryani’ (which has loads of Indian masala, besides meat and/or veggies) or even a ‘pilaf’ (it’s ‘pulao’ to us Indians!). But yet has a subtle flavour with a sudden tart, acidic bite of the peppercorns. And goes really nicely with Thai green curry (which the dear wife makes pretty well) or gravied chicken in a brown sauce, I assure you.
Next up, red rice.
Now red rice has fatter, unpolished grains, so it needs a little more of the steaming/boiling. Drain and set aside.
In the meantime, shallow fry some chopped red & yellow bell peppers (capsicums) in a pan in olive oil.
Also, finely chopped, fresh ginger till it caramelizes. This gives the dish a sweet, sharp zing.
Add the ginger to some Virginia brand Vidalia onion vinegarette (that’s how it’s spelt on the bottle!) in a bowl, with a healthy dash of red chili flakes to counterbalance the inherent slight sweetness of the sauce. The sauce is actually a dressing for salads, but it works here, I can tell you.
When the rice is done, pour this mixture into the rice for a moist, liquidy feel. And then the red and yellow pepper bits.
And you’re good to go. This, since it’s slightly on the sweet side, goes well with a spicy, grilled chicken.
They’re both rice, but distinctly different in taste, yet equally versatile in their pairing with a protein mains.