Brown rice

Father started it, with his tale of the chickens that didn’t get sick because they ate the brown rice. Not one for chit chat, every conversation was gauged to stretch our horizons.

This was in the 1960s. By the end of the 70s I was living in a legal squat in West Kentish Town and eating rather a lot of brown rice. Not stir fry: a bowl of softened vegetables and rice, available night and day, summer and winter.

  • Ingredients: 100g brown rice. I have used brown basmati, but this is not the right rice for the 70s. It had a shorter grain. Half a pointy cabbage, shredded, one large carrot, one leek, two medium red onions, one red pepper – all sliced. Olive oil, salt, pickle or soy sauce, a handful of nuts.
  • Method: First, rinse the rice and put it in a large pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook until the grains are tender. Drain, rinse with boiling water, drain again, return to the pan, cover and leave for a minute on the lowest heat, then turn off.

Put the sliced onions and leek into a wok with a minimal amount of oil. I used olive oil but cold pressed sunflower oil would have been usual in the past. Cook on a low heat until the onions have softened and then add the other vegetables. Fold them in together and then cover and leave to cook very gently and slowly, turning from time to time.

When the rice is ready and the vegetables are oozing, combine the two in the rice pot. Add a few nuts (pistachio, almonds, hazel ?) to the empty wok and toast slightly. Serve in attractive bowls with the nuts on top. I feel umeboshi plums and tamari (soy sauce) might have made an appearance about now but these days it’s lime pickle or mango chutney.

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