How is white rice so white!
The seeds of the rice plant are first milled using a rice huller to remove the chaff or the the outer husks of the grain. At this point in the process the product is called brown rice. This process may be continued, removing the germ and the rest of the husk, called the bran at this point, creating white rice. The white rice may then be buffed with glucose or talc powder (often called polished rice, though this term may also refer to white rice in general), parboiled or processed into flour. The white rice may also be enriched by adding nutrients, especially those lost during the milling process. While the cheapest method of enriching involves adding a powdered blend of nutrients that will easily wash off, more sophisticated methods apply nutrients directly to the grain, coating the grain with a water insoluble substance which is resistant to washing.
Brown vs. white
Many have asked me the difference between brown rice and white rice. Milling, as explained above, is the primary difference between brown and white rice. It removes the outer bran layer of the rice grain. This affects the nutritional quality of the rice leaving a core comprised of mostly carbohydrates. In this bran layer resides nutrients of vital importance in the diet, making white rice a poor competitor in the nutrition game. Fibre is dramatically lower in white rice, as are the oils, most of the B vitamins and important minerals. Bran contains several things of major importance - two major ones are fibre and essential oils. Fibre is not only filling, but is implicated in prevention of major diseases such as certain gastrointestinal diseases and heart disease. Nutritional experts recommend twenty-five grams of fibre a day to keep cancer at bay. A cup of brown rice adds nearly 3.5 grams, while an equal amount of white rice not even 1 gram. Also, components of the oils present in rice bran have been shown in numerous studies to decrease serum cholesterol, a major risk factor in heart disease.
Brown rice takes longer to cook than regular white rice (about forty five minutes versus fifteen to twenty minutes) because of the structure of the brown rice grain. Brown rice has far more nutrients as vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folacin, potassium, magnesium, iron and over dozen other nutrients. Added to that, the dietary fibre contained in white rice is around a quarter of brown rice. Brown rice may help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, and may even contribute towards maintaining a healthy weight.
The Vitamin B is important. Rice gruel is considered easy food for the stomach especially for the ailing. Compared to wheat, rice has lower gluten content so more easily digestible.
I changed a few things some years back. I switched to brown. Now that is something most of you are doing so easily now, thanks to the new awareness about whole food, thanks to the easy availability and thanks to all those wonderful recipes. But when I started cooking it at home, there was big resistance especially from my little kids. I could not blame them because I too found the rice looking different, tasting different. That’s when another twist happened. My in laws came to stay. So here we are at the table and here they are expecting lovely white rice to round off the meal and Alyona brings in a bowl of not so white rice! They did eat it up because I spoke up and defined the healthier possibilities in brown rice but could see the lack of conviction on the faces of my dining companions. So the chef had to get to work again and for the evening meal Alyona and I made them a nice soft khichdi with brown rice and dal. Added a bit of haldi and salt and they loved it! So when the brown rice non-lovers come over, make khichdi! But things are certainly on track now. The kids expect nothing but brown rice on the table and there is no fuss. And brown rice makes some lovely oil free pulaos and biryanis too…try some boiled grains in a chicken soup to make it heartier, or even try a kheer with brown rice, you cannot go wrong. I have also made pohe using the flattened rice made from brown rice.