What would a fast be without rice?
We have a small, inexpensive rice cooker — our criterion for picking it was that it was the cheapest one sold at WalMart — and it gets a heavy workout during fasting seasons. Ordinarily I shun kitchen gadgets, but this one easily earns its space on the countertop for cooking white rice, brown rice, sometimes barley. I’ve even tried to cook lentils in it, with poor results. With the usual grains, though, it does a great job every time.
We’ve found that we can doctor up the grains quite a bit right in the rice cooker. Any of the following additives will add a lot of flavor. Just be sure to measure out the rice and water according to instructions first, then add the other ingredients before turning the machine on. Add salt according to instructions or your own experience.
Chop up an onion and add to the rice and water. This is such an easy way to add flavor to the grains that I’ve taken to doing it almost every time.
Add a teaspoon or so of curry powder, cumin and/or cinnamon.
Add a handful of raisins.
Chop up and add a couple of mushrooms.
Add dried herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) or chopped fresh herbs if you have them.
You can experiment, too, with adding fresh or frozen vegetables to the mix. How this works will depend on the cooking time: brown rice takes about three times longer to cook than white, so use vegetables that won’t turn to mush in that time.