Rice is nice … discover how to use the budget-friendly staple


Rice is a staple and a wonderful flavour carrier used in cuisines all over the world.  It’s incredibly economical to use and satisfying to eat. Think beyond it being something to soak up the juices of your butter chicken and make it the star of the show. Read on to find out more.


Rice has been cultivated as a crop since as early as 3500 BC in Asia and was brought to the Western world in about 335 BC when Alexander the Great’s soldiers entered India. Rice cultivation started in Italy in the tenth century AD. Today this starchy grain from the grass family (Graminae) is the most important food crop for most of the world’s population.



Cultivated rice is a single species, with many sub-species.  These may be broadly divided into three types – long, medium, and short-grained rice. All have their own unique properties and dishes to which they are best suited. For example, long-grained rice, such as basmati, when cooked, is light and fluffy and lends itself to pilafs, biryanis, and curries. Short-grained rice varieties are denser and tend to stick together, and are used for risotto, paella, and sushi. Medium-grained rices, both white and brown (which is white with the husk intact) are versatile for many uses and favoured in Chinese cooking.


Great on the budget

Rice is very rewarding to cook with and is great for the household budget. Not only is it relatively cheap to buy, but one cup of raw rice yields about 3 cups of cooked rice.  Allow about 100g rice per person when deciding how much rice to cook.


Cooking methods

There are many ways to cook rice. If your recipe calls for cooked rice, you can follow any of these methods, according to the equipment and time that you have.


Stovetop – Place 1 cup white short, medium, or long grained rice and 1½ cups cold water in a large saucepan over high heat. Once the surface of the water is bubbling and a little foamy, turn the heat down and put on the lid. Leave for 13 minutes, don’t stir or peak inside!  The water should all be absorbed.  Leave lid on, remove from stove, let sit for 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork.


Oven – Preheat oven to 200C. Place 2 cups white short, medium, or long grained rice and 3 cups boiling water in a small casserole dish with a lid. This is the minimum amount of rice for this recipe to work. Place lid on top and bake in oven for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.


Microwave – Place 1 cup rice and 2 cups boiling water in a tall microwave-safe container, microwave on high for 12 minutes without the lid.  Remove from microwave, cover with lid, and let sit for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.



Rice isn’t just an accompaniment but makes a great meal in its own right.  It can be used for arancini, as a stuffing for vegetables such as capsicums, as the main starch in casseroles, of course in pilafs, paellas, risottos and biryani, in soups to add substance and texture (such as Greek avgolemono soup), in a jambalaya, as a tasty fried rice, as a salad, baked with vegetables and drizzled with yoghurt, in savoury mince recipes, in burritos and many more.


For more inspiration have a look at our recipe collection featuring rice:


Stuffed butternut pumpkin

Leek and pumpkin risotto

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

Gorgonzola Risotto

Mango and Avocado Black Rice Salad

Broccoli and Rice Salad

Chilli Cheese Arancini

Garlic Buttered Swiss Brown Mushroom Risotto

Rice Balls Three Ways

Teurgoule (Baked Rice Pudding) with Cinnamon Stewed Apples



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