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Jewish Recipes --> Jewish and Israeli Foods --> Rice

Rice refers to two species (Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima) of grass, native to tropical and subtropical southeastern Asia and to Africa, which together provide more than one fifth of the calories consumed by humans. Rice is an annual plant, growing to 1-1.8 m tall, occasionally more, with long slender leaves 50-100 cm long and 2-2.5 cm broad. The small wind-pollinated flowers are produced in a branched arching to pendulous inflorescence 30-50 cm long. The seed is a grain (caryopsis) 5-12 mm long and 2-3 mm thick. The word rice derives from the Tamil word arisi.

Note: Rice is not kosher for Passover. Consult your Rabbi.

Also see:

Cultivation

Rice is a dietary staple of more than half of the world's human population (most of Asia and Latin America), making it the most consumed cereal grain. Rice cultivation is well suited to countries and regions with low labor costs and high rainfall, as it is very labour-intensive to cultivate and requires plenty of water for irrigation. However, it can be grown practically anywhere, even on steep hillsides. Rice is the world's third largest crop, behind maize (corn) and wheat. Although its species are native to South Asia and certain parts of Africa, centuries of trade and exportation has made it commonplace in many cultures.

Rice is often grown in paddies shallow puddles carefully controlled to ensure the appropriate water depth (typically 15 cm). Rice paddies sometimes serve a dual agricultural purpose by also producing edible fish or frogs, a useful source of protein. The farmers take advantage of the rice plant's tolerance to water: the water in the paddies prevents weeds from outgrowing the crop. Once the rice has established dominance of the field, the water can be drained in preparation for harvest. Paddies increase productivity, although rice can also be grown on dry land (including on terraced hillsides) with the help of chemical weed controls.

In some instances, a deepwater strain of rice often called floating rice is grown. This can develop elongated stems capable of coping with water depths exceeding 2 meters (6 feet).

Rice paddies are an important habitat for birds such as herons and warblers, and a wide range of amphibians and snakes. They perform a useful function in controlling insect pests by providing useful habitats for those who prey on them.

Whether it is grown in paddies or on dry land, rice requires a great amount of water compared to other food crops. Rice growing is a controversial practice in some areas, particularly in the United States and Australia, where rice farmers use 7% of the nation's water to generate just 0.02% of GDP. However, in nations that have a periodical rain season and typhoons, rice paddies serve to keep the water supply steady and prevent floods from reaching a dangerous level.

Preparation as food

The seeds of the rice plant are first milled to remove the outer husks of the grain; this creates brown rice. This process may be continued, removing the germ and the rest of the husk, called bran at this point, creating white rice. The white rice may then be buffed with glucose or talc powder (often called polished rice), parboiled, or processed into flour. The white rice may also be enriched to add nutrients, especially those lost during the milling process. While the cheapest method of enriching involves adding a powdered blend of nutrients that will easily wash off (in the United States, rice which has been so treated requires a label warning against rinsing), more sophisticated methods which apply nutrients directly to the grain and then coat the grain with a water insoluble substance are resistant to washing.

While washing is counterproductive for the powder enriched rice, it is absolutely necessary to create a better tasting and better consistency of rice when polished rice (illegal in some countries including the United States) is used.

Rice bran, called nuka in Japan, is a valuable commodity in Asia and is used for many daily needs. It is a moist inner oily layer that is heated to produce a very healthy oil. Another use is to make a kind of pickled vegetable.

The raw rice may be ground into flour for many uses as well, including making many kinds of beverages such as amazake, horchata, rice milk, and sake. Rice flour is generally safe for people on a gluten-free diet.

The processed rice seeds are usually boiled or steamed to make them edible, after which they may be fried in oil, or butter, or beaten in a tub to make mochi.

Rice, like other cereal grains, can be puffed (or popped). This process takes advantage of the grains' moisture content and typically involves heating grain pellets in a special chamber. Further puffing is sometimes accomplished by processing pre-puffed pellets in a low-pressure chamber. By the ideal gas law, one can see that both lowering the local pressure or raising the moisture temperature would result in an increase in volume prior to moisture evaporation, thus resulting in a puffy texture.

Cooking

Rice is cooked by boiling or steaming. It can be cooked in just enough water to cook it through, or it can be cooked in a large quantity of water which is drained before serving. Electric rice cookers, which are popular in Asia, simplify the process of cooking rice.

Rice may also be made into rice porridge by adding more water than usual. This way the rice will be very saturated with water that it becomes very soft, expanded, and fluffy. Rice porridge is very easy to digest, so it is especially suitable for the sick.

Rice may be soaked prior to cooking. Soaked rice cooks faster. For some varieties, soaking improves the texture of the cooked rice by increasing expansion of the grains.

When preparing brown rice, a nutritionally superior method of preparation known as GABA Rice or GBR may be used. This involves soaking washed brown rice for 20 hours in warm water (38 C or 100 F) prior to cooking it. This process stimulates germination, which activates various enzymes in the rice. By this method, a result of the United Nations Year of Rice, it is possible to obtain a more complete amino acid profile, including GABA.

History

Rice cultivation is considered to have begun simultaneously in many countries over 6500 years ago. Two species of rice were domesticated, Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and African rice (Oryza glaberrima).

It is believed that common wild rice, Oryza rufipogon, was the wild ancestor of Asian rice. O. sativa appears to have originated around the foothills of the Himalayas, with O. sativa var. indica on the Indian side and O. sativa var. japonica on the Chinese side.

African rice has been cultivated for 3500 years. Between 1500 and 800 BCE, O. glaberrima propagated from its original center, the Niger River delta, and extended to Senegal. However, it never developed far from its original region. Its cultivation even declined in favor of the Asian species, possibly brought to the African continent by Arabs coming from the east coast between the 7th and 11th centuries.

Dry-land rice was introduced to Japan and Korea circa 1000 BCE. Later wet-paddy intensive rice agriculture occurred in Korea during the Middle Mumun pottery period (c. 850-550 BCE) and reached Japan by the Yayoi circa 300 BCE.

O. sativa was adapted to farming in the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe around 800 BCE. The Moors brought it to the Iberian Peninsula when they conquered it in 711 CE. After the middle of the 15th century, rice spread throughout Italy and then France, later propagating to all the continents during the great age of European exploration. In 1694, rice arrived in South Carolina, probably originating from Madagascar. The Spanish brought rice to South America at the beginning of the 18th century

Sept 2005 - 2014 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods- Jewish Foods