Rice has been in existence for decades now, documented to have been first grown around the Asian continents; Thailand, China, and Japan. Its preparation has evolved with time concerning cultural diversification and practices among communities in the world. Vegetable rice, for instance, is said to have been invented in the Sui dynasty (A.D. 589–618). The meal comprises cooked whole rice grains, fresh vegetables, natural spices and vegetable oil making it being termed a balanced diet by a nutritionist (Vegetable Fried Rice). Colouring agents, often yellow-brown are added to the delicacy, depending on the occasion, diced meat steak is added to the meal; (chicken pieces would spice up the meal, although it’s not common). It is served separately with salad dipped in vinegar and mayonnaises, a bowl of soup and a favorite drink of choice.
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Chicken, meat or eggs better the taste of the vegetable rice, for our process we will prepare fried vegetable rice without them. Getting the tastiest vegetable rice would call for the best ingredients; the rice grains even after cooking need to remain separated. This is achieved by cooking rice normally and spread to dry, cooking rice normally, with little water than usual, and using quality rice, preferably imported from India, Thailand or Pakistan that naturally separates even after cooking.
Fried vegetable rice is a combination of whole rice and fresh vegetable, usually steamed and not cooked to tenderness. Rice is a natural source of carbohydrate in form of starch and a meagre amount of protein in it. When cooked it composition changes and water take up to 70% of the total content, making a rich diet. Rice has no fat or lipid content making it a good food for the heart and arteries. Vegetables are rich sources of vitamins A and C and are good sources of potassium and folate and add bulk to the food as well. Fiber from broccoli, cabbages and cauliflower boost digestion. Spices, cumin seeds or powder precisely, are rich I minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium all beneficial to the body. A mix of these provides a highly nutritious but also delicious meal (Anonymous). Depending on nutritional situations ad demands, certain ingredients may be avoided, for instance, high blood pressure patients would not prefer salted food.
Fresh vegetables will be required for the preparation of tasty and healthy fried vegetable rice. Using natural spices gives desired tastes, colour, and aroma of the meal. It is also important to use the right amounts of ingredients, not to outdo the meal itself; rice and vegetable. Use fresh vegetable oil (sunflower oil), nutritionist recommend vegetable oil over other oils like olive and canola oil as it makes the rice fluffy (Mannick). Rice comprises more the half of the meal, thus it needs to be of the highest quality and quantity. The rice needs to be cooked before beginning the stirring process, and the methods were discussed above. Basmati rice originating from India, Pakistan or Thailand is highly recommended for this delicacy.
Yellow onions are preferred as the first choice of onion to use for the preparation of fried vegetable rice. The onion is sulphur-rich and produces a flavour that culminates nicely into the food (America’s Test Kitchen). Any type of onion is equally good for the meal, however. The onions could be sliced into rings or diced to your liking. When sliced, should be thin enough to allow it to cook properly in the vegetable oil. When diced the cubes should be smaller to allow complete cooking as well. Next is cumin seeds, these are added first and should be allowed to temper, turn darker and begin to pop. For this preparation, use cumin seeds and not grounded cumin seed powder. The seeds have other nutritional benefits besides flavor and aroma; it improves digestion along the gut and improves memory among other health benefits.
The next category is the vegetable; carrots, cabbage, carrots, coriander, broccoli bulbs and stem, cauliflower, and zucchini. The vegetables’ cooking time varies from one to another, some take quite long to cook, others just need steaming to cook. Carrots will be diced into smaller cubes to increase the surface area for cooking. Zucchini are best sliced, for this dish you may use diced as well, they will be smaller in size. Get fresh green zucchini for the preparation of the vegetable rice. For the cauliflower, crush them into smaller pieces and put them in a blender; blend gently pours into a bowl separately (Mannick). You may do the same for the broccoli bulbs and stems, although I would prefer not to. Broccoli should be fresh and turgid for the best crunchy taste of them. Coriander should be fresh and green, wash thoroughly with running water to eliminate soil at the roots.
Before you begin set all ingredients ready to be added sequentially during the cooking process. The cooking process is to take 15-20 minutes. Add salt generously at the early stages of cooking to your liking to give the meal taste.
as little as 3 hours
Follow the step-by-step process to achieve desired fried vegetable rice. The cooking process is not limited to the mentioned ingredient and spices. Use any available ingredient just making sure they are as fresh and natural as possible.
Preheat the cooking pan before adding 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Cook the oil with medium heat in the cooker to the desired temperature. Add cumin seeds to the cooking vegetable oil and stir gently; medium heat allows cumin seeds to cook gently. Allow them to turn darker and wait till they start popping. This is why I preferred seeds over powder, they are easy to monitor.
Add diced or sliced yellow onions to the developing paste and continue stirring, add ground garlic to the pan and continue to stir. Garlic tends to stick on the pan floor or walls, thus keep stirring; allow onions and garlic to turn translucent (golden-brown) under medium heat. Add ground ginger to the paste and stir.
Add cauliflower to the paste and continue stirring, you may reduce heat to low or minimum and steam for 2 minutes. Open the lid and add rice to the mix, stir gently and thoroughly to mix all the ingredients with the rice and cauliflower. At this stage consider adding the spices and colouring agents to the mix to allow them to cook together with the rice. Add salt and stir thoroughly until the mix picks the colour and taste. Add the diced carrots and chopped cabbage to the mix and stir, making sure to have restored heat to medium from low.
Broccoli bulbs and stems need to be steamed to cook. Thus add one cup full of water (300ml) and heat before adding broccoli stems and bulbs. Continue to add zucchini, red pepper, and peas to the cooking mix and cover using a transparent lid. Allow to steam for 3-4 minutes. Coriander is the last vegetable to be added as it takes lesser time to cook and need to be consumed rather raw (America’s Test Kitchen).
Cook further for 3-4 minutes while maintaining the medium heat with the lid. Stir for the last time and turn off the heat. Fried vegetable rice is best served hot, with meat or chicken soup and a favorite drink, preferably chilled; fresh salad dipped in mayonnaise and vinegar adds a touch to the meal.
To conclude, vegetable rice may be cooked in different ways to the desired liking. Adding proteins to the meal adds bulk and taste to the meal but is not mandatory. If need be, add diced meat, eggs or chopped chicken to the meal. The proteins should be cooked before their preparation with vegetables and rice, as vegetables are cooked for a short while, 10-15 minutes. Using the freshest ingredients and the best quality rice is key to achieving the best taste and appearance of fried vegetable rice. The procedure may vary depending on the cooks, nutritional demands and or occasion for the meal. The main meal is rice and should be dominant in the meal. Broccoli stems and bulbs are to be kept as crunchy as possible, do not overcook to make them soft. Cauliflower should be mixed thoroughly with the rice and cooking oil to form a perfect mix. Medium heat is suitable throughout the cooking process to allow ingredients to cook gently.
“Vegetable Fried Rice.” Food Network, 2018.
America’s Test Kitchen. The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need. America’s Test Kitchen, 2019.
Mannick, Donnell. Delicious Fried Rice Recipes: The Complete Guide To Varieties Of Fried Rice Recipes, How To Make At Home: Instructions To Cook Fried Rice. Independently published, 2021.