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Rice -- A Sweet, Saatvic Ayurvedic Delight
Rice is not only a staple food around the world but is a cultural symbol for fertility, health and wealth in many countries. In our own country it is customary to throw rice at a newly wed couple, symbolizing wishes for fertility and prosperity. In India it is believed that Lord Vishnu caused the Earth to give birth to rice and that the god Indra taught the people how to raise it. Rice is used for worship, and colored powdered rice is used to create beautiful works of art in the form of mandalas in the Far East. In these countries, rice is treated with reverence and associated with elaborate planting rituals.
There are several dozen varieties of rice. Some of the common varieties of rice include jasmine, Texmati, Calmati, Japanese, arboria, brown rice, wild rice and Basmati rice. White rice is considered easier to digest in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, Basmati rice is the king of all rices. Basmati rice is saatvic or pure, it balances all three doshas, it is nourishing for the body tissues and it is easy to digest. Aged Basmati rice has an aroma and flavor arguably the best in the world. Ayurveda recommends avoiding rice that is par boiled, instant or pre-cooked because is has less nutrition and less prana or life energy in it.
Rice contributes the sweet taste according to Ayurveda. It is a light, soft, smooth and nourishing food. It is cooling in nature. Rice is generally good for balancing Vata and Pitta. It may create excess mucus, so rice in excess is not considered ideal for Kapha. To balance Vata, eat rice that is cooked well, in plenty of water, and add a dash of Ghee to the cooked rice. Desserts made with rice and milk are particularly cooling and balancing for Pitta. Individuals trying to balance Kapha should eat less rice, and dry roast the rice before cooking it in water.
Cooking Basmati Rice -- Two Methods
Soaked rice can use less water such as one cup of rice and one and three quarter cups water. Bring the rice and water to a boil, cover with a secure lid and reduce to a simmer. Don't lift the lid or stir the rice as it is cooking. The reason is that as the rice is expanding it forms various steam tunnels. If these are interrupted then the rice will not cook evenly, resulting in the bottom soggy or burned and the top not done. Allow to cook for 15 - 20 minutes. The rice should not be mushy and stuck together. Each grain should come out firm, separate and tasty.
To tell if the rice is cooked enough, remove a grain of rice and squeeze it between the thumb and forefinger. It should completely mash. There should be no hard parts. Do not add cold water to rice that is already cooking. This destroys the agni of the rice and you will not be able to digest it properly. Salt should not be added until the rice is finished cooking. Most recipes with rice suggest that you add salt at the beginning, but Ayurveda says that the salt actually affects the temperature of the cooking process and the agni of the rice. Salt can be mixed in after the rice is finished being cooked.
Another way to cook the rice instead of steaming it is to boil it. Place rinsed rice in more water than can be absorbed (you don't need to use a measuring cup). Add one handful of rice per person into a large pot of boiling water. Boil 10 minutes or until the rice is finished cooking. It is not necessary to cover the pot. Drain the rice with a colander and then put into a serving bowl. Dot with Ghee and salt.
Ways to Use Rice
and fry for about 1/2 minute on low heat. Add the raw rice and sauté for several minutes until it well coated with the Ghee and spices. Now add the vegetables and fry for several more minutes. Add the water, bay leaf, and cardamom. Stir again and then bring water to a boil. Cover the pot and cook on low heat until the rice has absorbed the water. Add salt to taste. Place rice in a serving bowl and sprinkle lime juice over it. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Wash and drain rice and mung beans and cook in 2-3 cups water until tender and soft. Add the Brown sugar or crushed jaggery and the saffron milk and mix well. Stir constantly to prevent the rice mixture from sticking to the pot and reduce heat to low after the sugar/jaggery is blended, Heat the Ghee and fry the nuts and raisins until golden. Add the cardamom and nutmeg to the Ghee, turn off the heat and mix into the rice mixture. Serve warm.
Note - Jaggery and Basmati Rice are available at most Indian grocery stores.
These articles provide a great resource from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians on the knowledge, practices, products, and applications of Maharishi Ayurveda.