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Many tastes of rice
July 6, 2014, 10:59 am

Take one cup of rice and you have a world of choice for tonight's dinner, but sadly, rice doesn't get the kudos it deserves. Today you will discover a collection of rice-based dishes that are affordable, nutritious, tasty and, with a little planning, can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Diverse backgrounds have created different food traditions that need different types of rice. Jasmine rice works best with Chinese cuisine, and basmati rice goes so well with Dahl and Indian food. In Japan and Korea, short-grain rice is preferred. That's also the case in Thailand, where bamboo pouches of sticky rice are carried around and eaten throughout the day, at work or on public transport.

Fried rice: With a little planning, fried rice is the dream weeknight dinner – quick to cook, an excellent fridge-clearer and even good to eat as leftovers. The rice used needs to be pre-cooked and then allowed to cool and dry out, which means most of the work can be done ahead of time.

Boil the rice in the morning, while the coffee is brewing and then spread it on a baking tray to leave in the fridge. At the same time, dice the chicken, vegetables, garlic, chilli and other ingredients so it's ready to go that night. With all this in place, dinner can be ready in 15 minutes. It's quick and there's no mess.

Egg and sweet soy sauce are two essentials for his fried rice, and you can even add prawns, sweet corn, chopped snake beans and sliced peas for a delicious meal.

Bibimap: This is Korea's version of fried rice – though the rice isn't actually fried, and the ingredients are presented on top to be mixed through with chopsticks (or a fork).  The base is normally warm short-grain rice – though it can also be a cold salad – and common additions include strips of beef, egg, fresh and pickled vegetables and mushrooms. This is all stirred through with the obligatory Korean chilli sauce that can be thinned with sesame oil and a little water.

Biryani: India's great one-pot rice dish can be adapted to using cooked or uncooked meats, or vegetables. At its simplest, fry onions with your favorite spice mix or curry paste, stir in diced chicken or lamb and cook. It is essential to fry the onions and spices in ghee. Some chefs like to poach a whole chicken for their Biryani, using both the shredded meat and the stock for flavor.

Add well-rinsed basmati rice and chicken stock, or, at a pinch, water and a stock cube. Don't be scared of how much spice and seasoning you put in. Bring to a boil and simmer on a low heat or bake in the oven. The Biryani once seasoned to perfection is a sensational food that can be the star of the dinner show.

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