A Review and Recipe for Tilda’s New Vintage Basmati Rice
Words and Photography by Luiz Hara
In Asian cultures, rice is one of the most important elements of any meal. This was very much the case as I grew up in our Japanese household in Brazil, and to this day I relish good quality, well cooked rice as part of my cooking in the UK.
Rice is also one of the most versatile of ingredients used in the kitchen, be it in Asia, South America or Europe – it can be steamed, fried, boiled or baked, flavoured, or eaten entirely plain, or even served as a dessert! There are different shapes and colours, varied flavours and textures, so I truly can never get bored of it.
Basmati is, in my opinion, one of the best types of rice as far as flavour and versatility go. I love using it for Persian chelow rice, for oriental stir-fried rice or Indian Biryani. So when I recently heard that Tilda was to launch an aged, Vintage Basmati rice my curiosity was piqued.
As in wine making, Basmati farmers recognise an exceptional crop when they see it, and 2006 was one of the finest in recent years. When that happens, farmers will keep some aside for their families to enjoy on special occasions. Tilda has purchased and kept some of the 2006 Indian harvest, and have a limited number of special edition packs for sale. According to Tilda, the vintage rice has been stored and matured over the last six years to enhance its characteristics and produce a richer, more separate grain, with a pronounced nutty and naturally sweet flavour.
I decided to put these claims to the test and try one of my favourite autumnal rice recipes -
Japanese Chestnut Rice (“Kuri Gohan”). In Japan, “Kuri Gohan” is made from a combination of Japanese short-grain and glutinous rice (mochi gome), water, mirin (a type of sweetened sake widely used in Japanese cooking), and chestnuts. I grew up eating this delicious rice, cooking it often at home and can think of few better recipes to bring out the sweet, nutty qualities of Tilda’s 2006 Vintage Basmati. I have adapted the recipe to reflect the different style of rice from the native Japanese variety and included a touch of butter for added flavour.
Japanese Chestnut Rice (Kuri Gohan)
280g Tilda Vintage Basmati
180ml Mirin (Japanese sweetened sake)
100g roasted, peeled and ready-to-eat chestnuts
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Wash the rice thoroughly in a bowl several times, discarding the water after each time, drain the rice. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Let the rice drain for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Roughly chop half of the chestnuts, keeping the other half whole.
3. Choose a pan with a tight fitting lid, with a small escape hole for steam. Place the rice in the pan, add water, mirin and salt. Top with the chopped and the whole chestnuts, and put the lid on. Light the gas, bringing the pan to the boil (you will recognise this by the steam coming out of the escape hole, it should take about 5 minutes), then, without removing the lid, reduce the flame to a low setting and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat, and leave the pan undisturbed for a further 15 minutes.
5. Fluff the rice, mixing the chestnuts and butter in, and arrange some whole chestnuts on top before serving.
I enjoy serving this rice with a slowly cooked Japanese pork belly, caramelised with brown sugar, ginger and soy sauce. For a more traditional European approach, this would go particularly well with roast partridge, pheasant or quail, and a port and stock reduction or good quality gravy.
I loved the flavour and texture of Tilda’s Vintage Basmati rice, it was perfectly cooked, yet still retaining a pleasing firmness. An excellent addition to any food enthusiasts’ store cupboard for those special rice occasions. I thoroughly recommend it.
Words and Photography by Luiz Hara
The London Foodie