Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Recipe #14: Rice Water

On Sept. 5, Global Voices Online posted a fun and informative bit of information about Ghanaian cooking. Thank you to Kajsa Halberg Adu for drawing it to my attention, and also for featuring BETUMI in her posting on Sept. 7.

Last week my husband had to take his once-every-10-years colonoscopy. That meant a few days of diet changes, which made it a good time to make a light and easy-to-prepare/easy-to-digest Ghanaian porridge/drink called "rice water." It's basically just cooking rice with extra water. While "rice water" is an ordinary breakfast porridge eaten by everyone, in Ghana it is especially recommended for children and invalids--especially when made thinner with even more water, and richer with extra milk. It has a different consistency from North American "Cream of Rice" cereals which are made from ground rice.

As is frequently the case, there is plenty of room for personal preference. I use about a half a cup of white rice (or about 4 oz.--frequently in the past in Ghana it was "1/2 cigarette tin"). I use long-grain rice, but any grain works fine. In Ghana, people boil the water first, then wash the rice and add it with salt to taste (maybe 1/2 teaspoon). I skip the pre-boiling and washing part.

The proportions vary, but about 4 cups of water to the rice works for me. Bring everything to a boil and lower the heat and simmer it until the rice is tender and kind of
starts to disintegrate. Add more water if you think it looks too thick.

The rice water can be served in a bowl or a cup, with milk and sugar added to taste. In Ghana I first learned to drink it with canned, or "tinned," evaporated milk, as fresh milk was not available. More recently people add powdered whole milk (like Nestle's NIDO) to it (and other
porridges.) Fresh milk can also be used. The amounts of each can be adjusted to taste. Rice water can be served hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Tomorrow I'll continue in this vein and share recipes for "iced kenkey" and "gari soak."

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