In February last year I walked into the Underground Gallery at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and saw 272 samples of rice meticulously lined up along the walls of the gallery. What surprised me was the variety. From the palest beige to the purest white each sample possessed a particular beauty. The samples were identified by beautiful handwritten labels.
The rice samples were part of an exhibition by the acclaimed indian artist, Amar Kanwar, and called The Sovereign Forest and explored the impact of mining and other commercial activities on the landscape and communities of Odisha (formerly Orissa), India. The rice illustrate the destruction of indigenous species by mining and the other commercial activities.
There are more than 40 000 varieties of rice and in the West we only eat a handful. Maybe risotto, Basmati and short grain pudding rice.
If we venture abroad we may come across more. In Laos we ate red, glutenous rice that we rolled into small balls and dipped into a sauce. In Spain paella rice.
Rice has always been associated with both health and nutritional deficiency disease. Where poor populations rely solely on polished rice which has had the outer layers removed, a disease known as beri beri occurs due to a deficiency of the vitamin thiamin.
Whole rice grains are more nutritious than polished rice. They contain several of the B group vitamins, several other micronutrients, fibre and carbohydrate.
The great thing about rice if you have a sensitive gut is, it is low in FODMAPs. You should be able to eat a generous portion of cooked rice (180g) with impunity. So long as you don’t load it up with fat or add too many chillies.
I was rather taken by the look of black rice which I spotted in the whole food shop this afternoon. I cooked 50 g in a generous quantity of water (500 ml) for 25 minutes. As soon as the water boiled, the water changed from clear to deep red and a distinct, nutty aroma rose from the rolling water. It was all looking very pretty in the saucepan and I began to imagine what to make.
Fast black rice salad
This is a lovely salad to eat as it is or to team up with other dishes such as grilled chicken or smoked fish.
- 100g black rice
- 1 l water
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1 tbsp green spring onion leaves, chopped
- 1/2 mild red chilli chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- sea salt and black pepper
Place the rice in a saucepan with 1 l water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain the rice and place it in a bowl.
Meanwhile grill the pepper until the skin has charred. Allow to cool a little and peel off the skin. Cut into strips when cool and add to the rice.
Add the remaining ingredients to the rice and mix well.
For more information about how to manage a sensitive gut www.theibsnetwork.org