‘Beauty is how versatile she is’: Celebrity Chetna Makan’s love letter to Rice | It’s the rice that makes it

For Chetna Makan, rice is not just an everyday staple: it is an integral part of life. The former Great British Bake Off contestant (McCann appeared in series five of the show, and was a semi-finalist) has written five cookbooks on Indian cuisine – and while she’s a head-turner with her impressive baking skills, rice takes center stage among all her recipes. Favorite.

“I grew up in Jabalpur, a small town in central India,” says Makan. “My mother cooked everything from scratch every day – a different meal for lunch and dinner. Everything was fresh, she even made her own garam masala, so I grew up with a very homely, beautiful, love-filled kind of food – and rice played a very important role in that.”

McCann’s memories of childhood are inextricably linked with food, from the raw, unbroken rice served during Hindu prayers on Diwali, to the rice dishes used by her mother – whether it be an everyday dinner, a lavish celebratory feast, or simple food designed to soothe an upset stomach.

“When we were doing well, my mom would make us Khichdi, which is a mixture of overcooked rice and lentils, so that everything becomes mushy,” says Makan. “You just cook some rice with lentils, water, salt and turmeric, and that’s it. It is very popular in India, and it was very convenient.

“When we didn’t want to eat anything complicated, she would make us a sweet dish called meta. It’s made just like you’d eat cornflakes, but with rice – you put some cooked rice in a bowl, then you sprinkle sugar on it and cover it with cold milk. Thinking about it, I can taste it now. It was just a beautiful thing.”

At home, food was always eaten using the hands – something McCann encourages her two children, aged 13 and 15, to try at their home in Broadstairs, Kent. “Eating by hand is part of Indian culture,” she says. “I recommend that everyone try eating rice this way, because it tastes completely different than it does when using a fork. It connects you to your food in a different way, and it simply tastes more delicious.”

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At home, Makan regularly cooks basmati rice, although in India it was reserved for holidays and special occasions. “My mom used to only use basmati rice to make biryani or pilaf, because it was much more expensive,” she says. “It has this beautiful long bean, and its own flavor and notes. I can eat it with my eyes closed and know it’s my smile.”

But despite her love of basmati rice—”especially in biryani, which I absolutely love”—Makan enjoys experimenting and cooking with a variety of rice to create everything from desserts that naturally satisfy her sweet tooth, to crispy dosa, traditional Indian pancakes made with rice. ground soaked.

“The beauty of rice is how versatile it is,” Makan says. “You can have plain rice and serve it with dal, curries, beans or chickpeas, which is the perfect base to carry all those flavours. Even if you just add ghee and cumin, it tastes amazing. But you can also use different kinds in different ways. Jasmine rice is floral and fragrant. So if you’re making pudding, it works really well, because it just adds more flavor.It’s the perfect base.

A shot of ingredients including Tilda rice

Good , For one, it has a creamy, light, and milky base that’s gently flavored with cardamom, which is my favorite spice. Simmer for a long time, which makes the milk creamier and the rice filling and bursting. Then it’s finished with nuts or dried fruit to add a slight crunch – I usually go for pistachios – and they taste amazing either hot or cold.

“I love brown rice, too—I find its earthy, woody flavor really great. I’m going to cook some brown rice, and once it’s at room temperature, add some chickpeas, cilantro leaves, a little chopped cucumber, and red onion. If I make a simple dressing—maybe a cilantro and mint dip With a little salt and lemon juice—and tossed it all through the rice, it makes a filling, delicious salad.

“I love using brown rice in soups, too—when you’re making roasted butternut squash and red onion soup, or maybe shallots and potatoes, putting the cooked brown rice in your pot before adding the soup makes a great base. It’s got that graininess and bite, which makes the soup so filling and flavorful.” Extremely “.

Whatever place you make it, the quality of the rice you use is crucial. “You can make the most amazing food, but if you don’t use high-quality rice like Tilda’s, all that effort and all these wonderful ingredients just won’t be able to shine,” she says. “If the quality isn’t good, you’ll get mushy or undercooked rice—cooking techniques matter, but quality matters, too.”

For more than 50 years, Tilda has been using only premium grains. Jasmine packaging uses the top layer They had The grains are sourced from Thailand, while the famous blue basmati packages – which use the term “pure” to describe the contents – are filled with rice grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. For rice to be pure, it must be grown within the Indo-Gangetic Plains, where the climate and soil conditions produce the finest grains – which are officially recognized as pure strain Basmati within the Basmati Code of Practice. Harvested just once a year by Tilda’s team of local farmers and millers, it’s then matured for 18 months before it’s graded for consistency. The same level of care can be found in all of our Basmati batches, including our microwavable packages.

“Tilda’s ready-to-heat rice is also a good way to make delicious rice, especially if I’m a student—or, in fact, my kids and husband when I’m away! The bags are a life-saver for a lot of people,” says Makan.

In addition to cooking the same meals for her family that her mother prepared for her, she passes the place of family tradition on to her children, especially when it comes to gathering around the table to eat.

“When I was growing up, we used to gather around the dining table every evening,” she says. “And I remember Sundays, when we would sit and talk and eat dal chawal and rice. Those afternoons with my family watching [the Indian TV series] Ramayan really stuck with me – very fond memories.

“Now, Sunday meals have become important to our family, too. It’s the only time we sit around the table and go out with my food. I try to make something special, because I want them to remember these meals how I remember meals with my family when I was a kid. For me, these moments are about About love — love for family, love for good food.”

Tilda has been the preferred choice of cedar aficionados for over 50 years. The rice you choose can really elevate your plate, so Tilda ensures that its products are only the best quality grains. For more information, visit tilda.com

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