Saffron Rice

For at least 20 years of my life I used to think there was only one type of rice: white. I didn’t like it very much as a child. It was always very sticky and didn’t look appealing. In Poland rice is usually packed in transparent, heat-proof plastic bags. Each bag contains about 100g of grains. We throw the bag into boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. When I think about it now I keep asking myself why the hell would I like to cook my rice in a plastic bag? Plastic (sic!).

My Polish rice beliefs were irretrievably shaken 7 years ago – when I first visited the Middle East. Currently, I live in a country where rice is usually cooked with a cup of olive oil that enhances taste and calories-intake (obviously). Side effects? Easy to guess.

Ayurveda comes in handy if you want to remind yourself that rice can be healthy and light. According to this ancient tradition, rice is a neutral ingredient that doesn’t affect your body and maintains its inner balance. White basmati rice, known for its fragrance and delicious flavor, is the most common variety in Ayurvedic diets as it is easy and calming on the digestive system. When cooked al dente, basmarti rice is also low on the Glycemic Index. It doesn’t contain gluten.

Additionally, according to research presented at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, using coconut oil and a refrigerating rice overnight can slash calories by as much as 60%. Enjoy it then 🙂

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Tips for cooking rice:

  • Wash rice by rinsing in water and draining 3 times; any more than this and you’ll lose nutrients.
  • An easy way to measure water for your rice is to make sure it covers the rice by 1 inch (2,5 cm)
  • Use a pot with tightly fitting lid as this allows the rice to cook in its own steam; and try not to peek, as this will slow the cooking process.
  • Cook rice on low heat.

Saffron Rice (the original recipe is from the Modern Ayurvedic Coobook; the one below is slightly changed)

Saffron adds subtle flavor and is known to revitalize the blood and circulation, as well as alleviate migraine headaches.

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings):

a pinch of saffron (1/4 tsp)

1/4 cup hot water

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp melted ghee/butter/olive oil

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Preparation:

  1. In a 1/4 cup of hot water, soak saffron for 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium pot on high heat, combine saffron, including water it was soaking it, and the remaining ingredients (except for ghee).
  3. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover with lid, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Melt ghee and stir in hot rice.

Variations according to the Ayurvedic Cookbook:

  • Add 2 tbsp raisins (I did it) ( increases Kapha)
  • Add 2 tbsp dried cranberries (increases Vata and Pitta)
  • Add 2 tbsp slivered toasted almonds (increases Pitta and Kapha)

This rice can be served with pretty much everything. I had it with red lentil dal.

For those who care: this rice pacifies all three doshas. 🙂

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