To me, brown rice has always signified ‘special occasion’. Not so special an occasion that it deserves a pulao but special enough to warrant a bit more effort – such as a Sunday lunch. It is perhaps for that reason that I most closely associate brown rice with my (and possibly the rest of the Parsi community) Sunday favourite – Dhansak
For something so delicious, brown rice is ridiculously easy to make and once you know how, you will be wondering why you decided to dilute the Dhansak experience with the normal white version instead. So, let me get right to it.
To make enough for six you will need: 2.5 cups rice, 2.5 tbsps sugar, 2 sticks of cinnamon, 3 -4 bay leaves, 4 -5 pods of cardamom, 2 tsp jeera, 5 – 6 cloves, some oil for frying, salt to taste and water.
Before you even begin, I suggest you grind up all the spices into what I call ‘rice masala’. The reason for grinding up all the spices is to ensure that the family doesn’t remove all the ‘bats and balls’ when eating, thereby wasting your spices and compromising the flavour. For regular Dhansak eaters, it also makes the cooking process much easier if you pre-grind this masala (stores well for upto a month in an airtight container)
Once you have the masala ready, add the oil into your tapeli (pan) and fry the sugar along with 1/4 cup of rice. You want to really burn the sugar till it becomes brown in colour – this sugar burning process is what is going to give you the colour so be patient and let it burn.
When its sufficiently brownish red in colour, add in the masala, remaining rice and atleast 5 cups of water. Let the water boil and the rice cook.
After about 15 – 20 mins, check to see if the rice is cooked. Drain out the water in a colander and let it drip-dry to get the grains separate and fluffy. And, voila you have brown rice. I told you it wasn’t hard!