Allyson Gofton - Brown Rice Is Nice

Publish Date
Friday, 5 June 2015, 12:27PM
By Allyson Gofton

Pilaf is a style of cooking where every grain of rice remains separate. For this to happen the rice is well washed to remove any starch, though with brown rice this begins to soften the tough outer bran layer. This rice is often tossed in hot oil and then cooked very slowly to that the rice absorbs all the liquid. The cooking process is completed with standing time before the lid is lifted to ensure the rice becomes light and fluffy. Occasionally a cloth is placed between the lid and the rice so that it absorbs any steam preventing condensation dripping back into the rice. Use Basmati brown rice for a wonderfully delicate flavour.

Did You know:

  • The starch in brown rice is slowly digested and absorbed, providing a slow release of glucose to the blood.
  • It’s gluten free for people who are having guests in and cannot eat pasta, use brown rice
  • Brown rice is rich in fibre, B-group vitamins.
  • It is also a good source of protein and it is cheap. Buy more of it.

Simple buttery pilaf brown rice

Serves: 6


2 cups brown basmati rice, well washed and strained
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
50 grams butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups tap cold water


  1. Put the rice in your largest bowl and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

  2. Heat the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onion for about 8-10 minutes over a low heat until the onions are soft but not coloured. Do not rush this process as you want the onions to be soft and well cooked at this stage.

  3. Add the rice and salt and toss in the butter for about 1 minute.

  4. Pour in the cold water and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, lower the heat to your lowest setting and allow the rice to simmer for about 25 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Stand for 5 minutes with the lid on before fluffing and serving. This rice grains will have split open, looking very fluffy, even over cooked, but the grains are much nicer and tender in texture.

  5. I tossed the rice pictured here with about 50 grams of butter and 2-3 tablespoons picked fennel fronds. Olive oil can be used in place of butter.

Cooks Tips:

  • You can use long grain rice instead of Basmati for this recipe.
  • Add toasted sliced or flaked almonds.
  • Add the grated rind of a lemon and a few handfuls of dried fruits, ideal with a curry.
  • Add a few strands of saffron when cooking, delicious served with a gutsy Spanish flavoured casserole.
  • Toss through roasted vegetables to make a fabulous salad and dress with a simple vinaigrette.

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