In Asia, rice is the foundation of all meals. People there usually prefer white rice, as they see it as more sophisticated than brown. They associate brown rice with poor people. Also, I think they don’t have access to brown rice very much.

In Asian medical thinking, rice has the quality of being sweet in flavor and neutral in temperature. It has the properties of nourishing the Spleen, soothing the Stomach, expelling toxins, increasing Qi. Basmati rice has more damp draining properties which are diuretic properties. Rice is neither warming nor cooling so it is acceptable for all constitutions. It is also very digestible, so acceptable for any digestive system, even children. Rice can be helpful for diarrhea, nausea, and thirst. It is said to increase the capacity of the Spleen to absorb Yin energy, so it is good for persons with the pattern of deficient Yin and Spleen issues.

It is highly nutritious, and has been long a staple of the health food diet.

Many people ask me how to cook whole grains, as I recommend them over white rice, pasta, and potatoes. I usually cook all whole grains in my rice cooker. It has a nonstick coating, and holds nearly a gallon capacity so I can make large amounts. The advantage of a rice cooker is that it cooks everything perfectly because it senses the weight of the cooked material getting lighter as it gives off steam. We also use it to cook millet, barley, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.

But for those of you who are just starting out with whole grains, you can do a good job with brown rice on the stove in a normal pot with a lid. I recommend a heavy pot that has a good heat capacity and a good fitting lid.

Basic Brown Rice    serves 2

1 cup short or long grain brown rice (not the pre-cooked kind, just the plain stuff, usually in a bag or in bulk)

2  cups water or broth at the boil (get it going on the stove in another pot)(or in your electric kettle)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 t butter or olive oil

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in your saucepan. Throw in the rice and stir while it heats up. When it starts to smell nutty, pour in the boiling broth/water and salt. Immediately turn down the heat to very low and cover. Cook for 45 minutes and DO NOT LIFT THE LID. Not lifting the lid is the key to great rice. At the end you can lift the lid and fluff the rice a bit. If it is still a little wet, you can cook it without the lid a few minutes to allow the steam to be released and dry out the rice. You may need to adjust the amount of water, or length of cooking time after your first attempt.

Alternatively, you can skip the browning in butter part, and just put the rice in the pot with water and salt, bring to the boil, cover and lower the heat. Same thing: simmer 45 min without lifting the lid.

A friend once told me that you don’t have to measure the water out, you can just fill the water over the rice to the depth of 1 inch (or one knuckle depth)  above the rice. That works OK too, but for beginners, I recommend measuring.

It may seem like a lot of water, compared to what is needed to cook white rice, but the brown soaks up a lot more.

Consult a cookbook or online to find out the amount of water needed for other grains. I recommend trying millet and quinoa (keenwa) at first. Quinoa is very high in protein, the highest of any grain. Do not use couscous as it is not a grain, but a pasta made of wheat. And similarly, bulgur is dried parboiled wheat and I am recommending that people use less wheat and embrace other grains.

A pressure cooker can also be used to cook whole grains. Use 1 c brown rice, soaked for an hour, and drained. 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups cold water and 1/4 t salt. Place rice, water and salt in pressure cooker and bring up to pressure on low pressure. When hissing starts, cook 30 to 45 minutes. Cool the pressure cooker under cold water to relieve pressure and serve. Serves 2.

You can also bake rice by following the basic recipe above, but preheat oven to 350, and place the toasted rice in a baking dish, add boiling water, cover, and bake 45-50 min till water is absorbed.