The Story of Rice by Ramesh Dutt Sharma

By Ramesh Dutt Sharma

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By Ramesh Dutt Sharma

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A pillar is set up in the centre of the threshing area. Oxen or buffaloes are tied or rather yoked to a pole attached to the central pillar. The animals are driven round and round the pillar, treading on the s~eaves. The grains fall off leaving the straw. Sometimes, animals are replaced by labourers. Women labourers thus "yoked" had bleeding feet from tramping the spiky stalks hour after hour. Threshers have made the work easy. This machine has iron teeth which grind the sheaves, separating the grain from the stalk.

To make them, parboiled rice and urad dal paste are mixed in a three to one ratio. The mixture is left to ferment overnight. That is why idlis are light and fluffy. At south Indian feasts there are dozens of rice preparations-plain rice, lemon rice, tamarind rice, curd rice, coconut rice, vegetable rice, sweet rice seasoned with kewara and dry fruit. Then there are a variety of kheers- the most popular is made by boiling rice in milk and adding a sprinkle of almonds and raisins. Rice cooked in sugarcane juice is a particular favourite of some people.

It becomes yellowish and has a glossy appearance. It not only retains a better shape but is also more nutritious than other rice. Now a fifth of the world's rice is parboiled. The world understood the importance of the Indian art of making parboiled ric~ only after paying a heavy price. In 1882 when a Japanese ship returned after a nine-month voyage twenty-five of its 276 crew were dead, and the rest were listless. It was discovered that they had eaten boiled rice three times a day but this was polished rice from a mill and had had its nutritive outer layer removed.

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