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Unpolished & Perfect

City chefs vouch for the coarse and not-very-popular brown rice as a tasty alternative for guilt-free binging

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Pune | Published: June 29, 2013 4:48:59 am

The aroma,texture and rich flavour of the long grains of white rice is what gourmands swear by. But the guilt that haunts them later is hard to deal with — as calories and fat content gives them nightmares. Enter brown rice — the neglected and coarser version of white rice. Although white rice seems to be a favourite with a majority for its appetising taste and appearance,brown rice wins hands-down when it comes to health benefits.

The brown rice,actually just the “hulled” or “unmilled” version,is whole grain rice. It has a mild,nutty flavour and is chewier and more nutritious than white rice. Traditionally,settlements in Asia ate unpolished rice,the sparkling white version being a more recent invention. But since brown rice goes rancid more quickly because of the bran and germ — which are removed to make white rice,our ancestors switched over to consuming white rice.

Chefs of some popular restaurants in the city have been making sure they serve flavour on healthy platters to their patrons. “Any rice,including long-grain,short-grain or sticky rice,may be eaten as brown rice,” says Chef Ajay Thakur from Prem’s restaurant in Koregaon Park. Garnishing one of his favourite dishes made from brown rice — Poached snapper spiked with kafir lime served with organic brown rice,caponata and cold ravigote sauce — he says more and more people in the city are becoming health-conscious,moving to brown rice.

Restaurants such as Malaka Spice and Il Fungo Magico in Koregaon Park and King’s by Badhshah in Camp also serve brown rice as an accompaniment or as part of the main dish.

A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition underscores the importance of choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grains such as white rice,to maintain a healthy body weight. In this study,which collected data on over 74,000 female nurses aged 38-63 years over 12 years,weight gain was inversely associated with the intake of high-fibre,wholegrain foods but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods. Not only did women who consumed more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who ate less of these fibre-rich foods,but those consuming the most dietary fibre from whole grains were 49 per cent less likely to gain weight as compared to those eating foods made from refined grains.

“It is a common myth that brown rice takes a lot of time to cook,” says Mayur Rao,a hotel management student. “One can cook brown rice exactly in the same way as one does with white rice — in a pressure cooker or in boiling water,” he adds. Rao says,“Brown rice makes for a perfect accompaniment to spicy south Indian curries. Especially in the costal areas,people traditionally eat brown rice.”

Thakur says brown rice can be used in any rice-based dish. “Brown rice is not limited to Indian cuisine. One can cook several European dishes with beans,potatoes and chicken,optionally,” he says.

Taniya Patel,a 24-year-old artist who works with an advertisement agency in the city,has been experimenting with brown rice. She says she generally adds some soya milk to the wild brown rice and sprinkles some sugar-free sweetener and cinnamon power on top to make a tasty porridge.

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