The superfood called leftover rice
Leftover rice is a staple food in every Indian cuisine. Not without a reason — this superfood is a great source of soluble, fermentable fibre and is great for the gut and burning fat.
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One of my all-time favourite dish and comfort food is masala curd rice.
I always make some extra rice and leave it overnight in the fridge. Then the next day I take the rice, mix it with fresh curd, chopped onions, green chillies and sometimes some steamed veggies too, give a piping tadka of ghee, rai, hing, dried red chillies and lots of curry leaves and dig in. All is well with the world on that day, and with my stomach too.
Curd rice from leftovers: When all is well with the world and one's digestive system. (Photo: India Today)
The fact is that boiling rice and keeping it in the fridge to use it the next day does not make the rice baasi (stale). Rather it boosts its health quotient in a surprising way. This way the RS content of white rice increases tremendously.
What is RS?
RS (resistant starch) is the third, lesser known type of fibre that our food provides (other two commonly known are soluble fibre and insoluble fibre). This is a special kind of starch that passes through the small intestines undigested and unchanged. So it helps us stay lean and healthy as it delivers satiety, thus help reduce food intake and fat accumulation.
RS also functions like soluble, fermentable fibre, which reaches the intestines and helps boost the good bacteria. So basically it works like a superfood for our digestive system. RS also helps reduce the risk of excess glucose in the blood while supporting health colon cells and acts as a natural fat-burning agent.
This is precisely why every region of the country has a couple of traditional dishes made with leftover rice. There are in fact as many ways to cook leftover rice in India as there are cuisines.
I love the masala Bhaat my sister makes, in which she loads it with peanuts and coconut. Then, there is Phodnicha Bhat — a Maharashtrian version of lemon rice prepared mostly as breakfast with previous day’s rice. I learnt this from a friend, and I end up having a couple of times a month at least. Having this for breakfast is rather smart as including some high RS foods in the first meal will keep one full for long and keep hunger pangs away.
Phodnicha Bhat: For the smart breakfast that is loaded with RS. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Maharashtrians also make Vaangi bhaath with curd, tomatoes and good masala. In Karnataka, the same dish is made with tamarind pulp and the Bhat masala powder. In Kerala, I am told that leftover rice is left in water overnight. In the morning they add green chillies, cooked tapioca, any leftover veggies, some curd and salt, mix it well and gulp it down. I am sure they stay sorted until lunch time. In Gujarat, they make something called Vagharela Bhaat, a kind of fried rice again.
Similarly Pakhala bhaat in Odisha — called panta bhaat in West Bengal — is rice porridge where leftover rice is covered with water and left overnight to ferment. This lightly fermented rice is eaten the following morning with salt, lime and chillies. A similar preparation in Tamil Nadu is called pazhedhu saadham which means old rice. Rice is immersed in water overnight to prevent spoilage and the next day, it is mixed with buttermilk and salt, and mashed to make gruel.
Lemon rice, tamarind rice, coconut rice, fried ghee rice — you name it. And have you tried making rice patty from leftover rice? It is delish!
And then there is this amazing tangy and spicy rice my mother makes with raw mangoes, red chillies and coconut — goes perfect with raita. Waiting eagerly for the mango season to begin for this one.
A bonus hint here is that boiled and cooled potatoes deliver the same RS benefit too! So indulge in both — it’ll do your gut and health a lot of good. And you might knock off a few pounds too without trying.