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Brown rice is partly-milled or un-milled rice, in which only the outermost layer of a grain of rice (husk) is removed. Brown rice is a natural, unbleached grain, and thus retains more nutrients. It has a mild nutty flavour and a brownish colour even after cooking.
Although it was once considered a food that only the poor ate, today brown rice is much more valued than white rice because of its health benefits. Many health-conscious people have adopted brown rice as their staple, as it is as close to the natural state of rice as possible. However, consumption of brown rice is still low, despite its nutritional value, because it takes a longer time to cook than white rice and many people do not enjoy its taste and texture. Moreover, once the husk is removed from rice, the bran starts going rancid, leading to a bitter taste. For this reason, brown rice also has a lower shelf life than white rice.
But, brown rice must be introduced in one’s diet because it is important for the health.
Soaked and cooked brown rice
Soak the cleaned brown rice for some time, discard the soaking water, and pressure-cook with 2 ½ to 3 times the amount of water by volume of dry brown rice. If cooking in a pan, use 5-6 times water and once the rice is cooked, drain all the excess starch water and cool in a large plate before using in recipes. Brown rice takes longer to cook than other rice. The cooking time can be 35-45 minutes.
How to select
Soaked brown rice
To soften the rice grains a little and to reduce the cooking time, brown rice should be soaked prior to cooking. First clean the rice 2-3 times changing the water each time. You can stop cleaning when the rinsing water is clear. Then, for each cup of rice, add 2-3 cups of fresh water at room temperature, and soak the rice for an hour or two. Drain the water and use as required.
• Purchase brown rice from a good source, and look for proper sealed packaging.
• Check for a recent date of packaging.
• If buying in loose, ensure the rice does not have a rancid odour, and is free from any kind of grime, dirt, stones etc.
• It is available in long grain, medium grain and short grain varieties. Choose as required.
• Brown rice does not have a long shelf-life, so buy in small quantities as required. Culinary Uses
• Use it any recipe that uses white rice. However, remember that the taste and texture will vary along with the cooking time involved. But, it is worth the effort as it is definitely more nutritious.
• Brown rice takes longer to cook than regular white rice (about 45 minutes vs. 15 or 20 minutes). However, one can cook the rice in advance and use in a wide range of recipes.
• It tastes especially good in salads, stuffing, stews and vegetarian dishes.
• Use it in place of white rice to make puddings of your choice.
• Replace bulgur wheat with brown rice to make delicious Tabbouleh.
• Combine with salad greens, tomatoes, olives and a tart vinaigrette dressing to make refreshing salads that are definitely a boon for weight watchers.
• You may use brown rice to make risottos.
• Combine brown rice, cheese and aromatic herbs of your choice to make delicious casseroles.
• Cooked brown rice can be combined with flour, buttermilk and herbs to make crisp and nutritious pancakes.How to store
• Store in airtight containers in a cool dry place away from moisture and humidity.
• Under such conditions, it can be stored for up to six months.
• Freezing brown rice and using as required is a better option since brown rice gets rancid faster.Health benefits
• Brown rice contains magnesium; one cup of cooked long grain brown rice contains 84 mg of magnesium while one cup of white rice contains 19 mg. Thus, it is a better source than white rice.
• The protein present in brown rice has one of the most complete essential amino acids.
• The rice bran layer of brown rice contains digestible fibre, which is not found in milled rice. Thus it is more easily digestible than white rice and also said to be less constipating.
• The oil content of the rice bran is a better source of important nutrients, including vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B1, B3, B6, folacin, potassium, magnesium and iron.
• Research says that women who eat whole grains like brown rice tend not to add weight.
• Brown rice contains selenium which minimizes colon cancer risk and also provides significant cardiovascular benefits for post-menopausal women.
• It's a good source of fibre that reduces high cholesterol levels and prevents atherosclerosis and breast cancer.
• Study shows that eating foods high in insoluble fibre, such as brown rice, can help women avoid gallstones.
• It may also reduce the risk of diabetes and is definitely a much healthier option for all.