Lately, I've been feeling like I've eaten rice in pretty much every form known to man. We eat so much rice at my house that I feel like we need a rice field in our backyard!! I was in desperate need of a new way to enjoy this versatile grain. So in keeping with the technique of coloring rice with saffron steeped in water when cooking biryani (see my older posts for the recipe), a light bulb went off in my head. How come there's no rainbow colored rice?!? I did some research online and the only thing I could find that came close to what I had in mind was colored rice that had rubbing alcohol mixed in to help the colors stay put. It was strictly for kids to play with and was inedible. I'm not about wasting good food, and I like my food pretty. With this in mind, I came up with this recipe that I named, "Carnival Rice", owing to it's festive colors. Here's what you'll need to recreate it:
-2 cups basmati rice.
-5 cups water (for cooking rice).
-3 tablespoons salt.
-3 tablespoons canola oil (or any vegetable oil with no smell).
-1 teaspoon white vinegar.
-1/4 teaspoon (per color) food coloring. Use either powdered or gel food coloring with no flavors. I used the 7 colors of the rainbow, but you can use any color you want.
-4 Oz. water in which to dissolve your food coloring.
-In a medium bowl, rinse out your rice 3-4 times with tap water until the residual water is no longer cloudy.
-Soak your rice in enough water to cover It completely.
-Add the vinegar and swirl the rice around briefly. Let your rice soak for at least 25-30 minutes prior to cooking.
-Drain your rice, rinse with tap water one more time and set aside after you're done soaking.
-In a medium saucepan, bring the 5 cups of water to a boil.
-Add the salt and stir.
-Once the water is boiling, add in the rice.
-Cook the rice for exactly 10 minutes. The rice should be "al dente" (not cooked all the way). You can tell it's not cooked through by breaking a grain of rice between your fingers).
-Drain the rice completely using a sieve or colander.
-Transfer the drained rice to an oven-safe baking dish (I used a rectangular 9x13 inch dish).
-Use a spoon or spatula to even out the surface of the rice. Set aside.
*** Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180• C)***
-In small cups or shot glasses, place the 4 Oz. of water in each cup (since I used 7 colors, I used 7 shot glasses).
-Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of flavorless food coloring into each cup/ shot glass (each color should be 1/4 teaspoon and each color should be dissolved in 4Oz. Of water. Every color should be placed in it's own cup).
-Using a toothpick or small spoon, stir well (be careful to use only one toothpick for each color, or your colors will appear dirty).
-Now, pour the dissolved color in the form of a wide strip from one end of the baking dish containing the rice, to another (I poured the coloring width-wise into the bowl, over the rice). Keep doing this until there are no more white grains of rice showing on the rice. Try not to mix the colors.
-Once the entire surface of the rice is covered in color, drizzle the 3 tablespoons of cooking oil randomly over the surface of the rice.
-Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and place it in the center rack of the oven. Let it cook for 8 minutes, uncover the foil and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes to dry out the liquid from the food coloring.
-Once the rice is done cooking, gently fluff the grains of rice around in order to mix the colors. The colors should be evenly distributed as shown in the pictures.
The rice tastes like regular, steamed rice, but just looks way prettier. This can be served with any kind of stew (I served mine with some beef stew and spinach-covered potatoes as shown below). My 3 year old who hates rice ate a bowl-full because the colors intrigued him. Enjoy!