One thing we can all agree on is, even though it is not ‘traditionally’ considered a staple, you would find rice in most Namibian homes today. As we embark on a culinary expedition that takes us across continents, celebrating the humble grain that unites kitchens worldwide, we will also share some information on how to explore the best of this culinary standard that can be elevated in so many ways, and no I am not talking about fried rice or putting frozen vegetables into your rice.
Rice varieties from across the globe we love:
Basmati rice (India and Pakistan)
Known as the ‘Queen of Fragrance’, basmati rice is a long-grain variety celebrated for its distinct aroma and delicate flavour. It hails from the foothills of the Himalayas and is a staple in South Asian cuisine. Basmati rice is ideal for biryanis, pilafs and dishes where each grain should remain separate and aromatic.
Arborio rice (Italy)
The heart and soul of Italian risottos, Arborio rice is short-grain and high in starch content. Its ability to absorb liquids while maintaining a firm texture makes it perfect for creating the rich, velvety consistency of classic risotto dishes.
Jasmine rice (Thailand)
Known for its fragrant, floral aroma, jasmine rice is a long-grain variety that hails from Thailand. It has a slightly sticky texture, making it easy to pick up with chopsticks, and it complements a wide range of south-east Asian dishes.
Local rice (Africa)
Some parts of Namibia, like Ongongo, have been known to grow an intriguing wild rice. The lake region of Malawi also produces some amazing rice which also finds its way to our stores.
Tips for the Ideal Pot
- Rinse: The world is divided on this one. Before cooking, rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This goes with different rice types and removes excess starch that can cause the rice to become gummy. If it is par boiled, there really is no need to. Also if you are looking for a separate sort of grain then wash. If you want it sticky and creamy like a paella, don’t.
- Ratio: Follow the recommended rice-to-water ratio on the package instructions. Generally, it’s around one cup of rice to two cups of water for most varieties.
- Simmer: Start with high heat to bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer once you add the rice. Stir slightly and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid to ensure even cooking.
- Patience: Resist the urge to lift the lid and peek at the rice while it’s cooking. Let it simmer undisturbed.
- Fluff: Once the rice is cooked, use a fork to gently fluff it. This helps separate the grains.
Spicy Rice and Beans
n 1 cup rice, rinsed
n 2 cups water
n 1 cup cooked black/red kidney beans (canned or cooked after they have soaked overnight)
n 1 cup chickpeas
n 1 onion, chopped
n 2 cloves garlic, minced
n 1 bell pepper, diced
n 1 tomato, chopped
n 1 teaspoon ground cumin
n 1 teaspoon chilli powder
n 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
n 1 stock cube
n Salt and pepper to taste
n Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
n Lime wedges (for serving)
- Sauté the chopped onion and garlic
- Add the diced bell pepper and cook until softened
- Stir in the tomato, cumin, chilli powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until tomatoes release their juices, then throw in the stock cube and stir until incorporated.
- Add the rinsed rice and cooked black beans to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Pour in the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and let it sit, covered, for a few minutes
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side or with your favourite protein.
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