One way of understanding the culinary genius of various ethnic cuisines is by cooking their rice.
A Royal Grain
Rice is a simple grain yet throughout history it has been on royal menus of various cultures as the main dish. From the pilav of Turkey, polou of Persia, pilafs of the Steppes, the isotos and paellas of the Mediterranean, to the pilau of India it has been served to great sultans, maharajahs, shah’s and emperors. Spices, nuts, dried fruits, vegetables and herbs transform rice into extraordinary meals.
A Sacred Grain
Rice has been the staple of many Asian civilizations and considered as God, Mae Posop for Thai, Tisnawati for Indonesian, Inkapati for Philippine or Ninigino-mikota for Japanese, Annapurna in India. Many Asian festivals are centered around rice harvest time and whole villages gather to sing, dance and offer prayers. Rice is also a symbol of fertility in many cultures. Rice and food are the same in many Asian languages, for example, "shi fan" in Chinese or "kin khao" in Thai.
© Kavita Mehta
photo credit Rice Association, USA