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Basmati rice, grown primarily in India and Pakistan, is one of the world’s most fragrant rices, a quality that blossoms during a year of post-harvest aging.

Oliver’s Markets carries a brand of this rice from India, called Himalayan Pride. It comes in a 5-pound reusable cloth bag. This long-grained rice cooks up perfectly fluffy, is delightfully fragrant and is delicious on its own, in congee, and as a foundation for some of the world’s best rice dishes, such as India’s biryani.

There is a perception that brown rice is always preferable — especially nutritionally — to white rice, but not everyone agrees. Brown rice is harder to digest than white and has a pronounced nutlike flavor that is delicious but not suited to all dishes, which is to say that it is not a good idea to simply substitute brown rice when white rice is called for, no matter how many web recipes tell you it’s just fine. It’s not.

Brown rice, which requires much longer cooking than white rice, should be appreciated for its own qualities and seasonings and other additions should support these characteristics. It is not quite the blank canvas that white rice can be.

Tune in next week for an exploration of brown rice, red rice and black rice.


Although there are a lot of ingredients in this dish, it is not difficult or particularly time-consuming to make, especially if you are not in a rush.

It’s not the sort of dish you want to throw together on a busy weeknight — but if you like to cook on Sundays, you can enjoy it on Monday and maybe even Tuesday if you’re not feeding more than a couple of people. It keeps well.

If you are feeding a larger group, this makes an excellent contribution to a potluck, especially one where there will be a lot of vegetarians.

Vegetable Biryani
Serves 6 to 8

1 cup small cauliflower florets

1 cup small broccoli florets

1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin half rounds

2 medium carrots, preferably white or pale yellow, peeled and cut into thin half rounds

5 tablespoons clarified butter

— Kosher salt

1 teaspoon white mustard seeds

1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and grated on the large blade of a box grater

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

½ to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne or other ground hot chili, to taste

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

— Black pepper in a mill

1 14-ounce can coconut milk, to taste

5 cups cooked basmati rice (from about 11/2 cups raw rice), cooled

½ cup raisins

¼ cup diced dried apricots

½ cup roasted and salted cashews

4 tablespoons fresh mint, very thinly sliced

4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced

— Several saffron threads

½ cup vegetable stock, preferably homemade

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt or raita (see Note below)

— Homemade or commercial chutney of choice

All About Quakes

5 Things to Do When The Shaking Starts

- Duck, cover, hold: Duck or drop down on the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on. Be prepared to move with it.

- If indoors, stay there: At least, until the shaking stops. If you’re outside, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees and power lines and drop to the ground. If you’re in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place.

- After the shaking stops: Get to a safe place outdoors if you think the structure you’re in is in danger of collapsing. Provide first aid for anyone slightly injured and seek medical attention for anyone seriously injured.

- Assume there will be aftershocks: Secure anything heavy that could fall, and eliminate fire hazards.

- Gas and water: Listen to the radio for instructions regarding turning off gas and water. If you smell gas, or think it is leaking, shut it off. Only a professional should turn it back on.


6 Things To Now To Prepare For A Disaster

- Contacting loved ones: Create a plan for how you will contact one another after the quake, such as establishing an out-of-area contact who can help coordinate the locations of family members and other information should you become separated. Make sure children learn these phone numbers and addresses and know the emergency plans.

- Important papers: Keep copies of important documents at the house of your out-of-area contact or keep important documents and valuables in a fireproof storage box or safe deposit box.

- Disaster supplies kit: Keep a smaller version in your vehicle. Families with children should have each child create their own personal pack.

- Know evacuation routes: Establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed.

- Plan for pets: Animals are typically not allowed in places where food is served, so you will need to have a place to take your pets if you have to go to a shelter.

- Don’t run out of gas: Always run on the top half of the tank, not on the bottom half.

Things To Remember

Water may be in short supply.

Natural gas and electric power may be out for days or weeks.

Garbage and sewage services may be interrupted.

Telephone, Internet, cell phone, and wireless communications may be overloaded or unavailable.

Mail service may be disrupted or delayed.

Gasoline may be in short supply, and rationing may be necessary.

Bank operations may be disrupted, limiting access to cash, ATMs, or online banking.

Grocery, drug, and other retail stores may be closed or unable to restock shelves. Businesses may sustain damage and disruption—many small businesses require a long time to reopen or do not survive disasters.

Your income may be affected — payroll checks or direct deposits may be delayed.

For more information, go here

Source: County of Sonoma

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato and carrots into an ovenproof pan, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter, toss, season with salt and set in the oven. Roast until the vegetables are just tender when pierced with a fork or bamboo skewer, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, put the remaining clarified butter into a heavy skillet set over medium heat, add the mustard seeds to the skillet, cook 2 minutes, add the onion, reduce the heat and cook until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Season lightly with salt, stir in the ginger, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, cardamom and several generous turns of black pepper.

Stir in the coconut milk, cover the pan and simmer 15 minutes, until the coconut milk has thickened.

Fold in the roasted vegetables.

If the coconut milk has not thickened, simmer uncovered over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Put the rice in a large bowl and use a fork to fluff it. Add the raisins, dried apricots and cashews and toss gently but thoroughly. Add half the mint and half the cilantro leaves and toss again.

Put the saffron into a small bowl and pour the stock over it; set aside briefly.

Spread the rice over the bottom of a baking dish, spoon the vegetables on top and drizzle stock over everything. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until it is sizzling hot, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.

To serve, divide among individual plates and garnish with the remaining mint and cilantro. Serve immediately, with yogurt or raita and chutney alongside.

Note: Raita is a common condiment in India and is very easy to make at home. It can be as simple as minced cucumbers, salt, pepper and plain yogurt. For raita recipes, visit “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.


This dish, a long time favorite, is inspired by a Turkish dish I came across many years ago in a tiny basement restaurant on the Upper East Side of New York City.

It was so delicious that I returned to the restaurant the night after my first visit to enjoy it again and to attempt to deconstruct it. This version comes quite close.

Minted Rice with Lamb & Chickpeas
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1½ pounds lamb meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

2 cups meat stock, boiling hot

1½ cups basmati rice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup boiling water

1 cup cooked chickpeas

— Zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup fresh spearmint leaves, cut into very thin strips

¼ cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves

¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

1 lemon, in wedges

1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy sauté pan set over medium-low heat, add the onion and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Transfer the onion mixture to a small bowl, increase the heat to medium and brown the lamb evenly on all sides.

Season with salt and pepper, add the meat stock, reduce the heat to low and simmer the lamb very gently until it is tender, about 40 minutes.

Stir in the cooked onions and garlic, the rice, the red pepper flakes, and the boiling water, cover the pan, and simmer until the rice is almost tender and nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas and the lemon zest, cover the pan and continue to cook until the liquid is completely absorbed and the rice is fully tender.

Remove from the heat and let sit, covered and undisturbed, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the spearmint, parsley and cilantro, taste, adjust the seasonings and transfer to a serving platter.

Garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy right away, with yogurt alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts “Mouthful, Smart Talk About Food, Wine & Farming” on KRCB FM on Sunday evenings at 6 p.m. Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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