The staple grain of many cultures, rice is low in fat and rich in vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, like calcium, protein, iron, and B vitamins. Rice as we know it was reportedly cultivated in India, spreading from there to Asia and the Middle East.
In its whole form, rice is a near perfect food. High in moisture, rice acts as a gentle diuretic, balancing the moisture content of the body and encouraging the elimination of any excess. Polished or white rice, while delicious on occasion, is pretty much devoid of nutrition and should be enjoyed occasionally, with brown rice as the staple grain.
The most common strains of rice include short grain, medium grain, and long grain. Short grain, the hardest and most compact variety, is best suited to cooler, temperate climates, while medium- and long-grain rice are used in warmer climates and during the summer months. Other gourmet varieties of rice have become popular in today’s cooking. These include arborio, basmati, texmati, wehani, black japonica, and red rice. Sweet brown rice, a glutinous variety of brown rice, is commonly used not only as a grain dish but also in mochi, a cake formed by pounding and drying cooked sweet rice.
There are limitless uses for rice in daily cooking: it can be pressure cooked, steamed, boiled, fried, baked, roasted, sautéed, and used in breads, sushi, casseroles, sautés, pilafs, or stuffings.