Israeli yellow rice is a popular side dish in Israel. It’s even almost as common as Israeli white rice. It is most commonly served with chicken, meatballs, or fish alongside veggies.
My family doesn’t sit down to eat together a lot, but when we do, there is yellow rice on the table.
Once, when we were already pressed for time, my mom added too much turmeric to the pot of rice. When it was finished and we tasted it for good measure, it tasted like soap!
My mom was convinced that whoever did the dishes somehow forgot to rinse the pot.
It was only later that we figured out that too much turmeric gives a soapy taste. We were really grateful for the additional white rice that week, let me tell you! Since then, I make the yellow rice because I measure everything.
My family always makes this dish plain, but on occasion you can also find it made with peas, carrots, onions, chickpeas, red peppers, or even cranberries.
Based on what I’ve seen, plain and with chickpeas are by far the most popular – and my personal favorite.
WHY SORT RICE
Sorting rice is useful because I’ve actually found bugs in rice before, especially with already opened bags of rice.
To be sure the rice is clean, measure out how much rice you need, then pour some of it out onto a white plate.
Sift through the rice to make sure there are no bugs – some of which look like small worms.
When done, pour the sorted rice into a pot and repeat with the remaining rice.
As a secondary step, I then fill the pot with water and agitate the rice with my fingers. This helps get anything that may have been missed to float to the top.
Pour out the water, and if you found anything, repeat until nothing comes up.
HOW TO STORE REMAINING DRY RICE
Store the remaining dry rice by placing it in an air tight container or a resalable plastic bag.
Doing so will protect the rice from bugs.
WHY WASH RICE
There are two benefits to rinsing rice. Firstly, it removes any debris.
Secondly, and most importantly, it is to remove surface starch. If the starch is not removed, it can cause rice to clump together and get gummy as it cooks.
Some say to rinse the rice repeatedly until the water runs clear. This isn’t necessary.
Instead, rinse the rice thoroughly a few times. After that, most of the starch should be removed and the water should be only slightly cloudy.
The way I like to wash rice is by putting it in a large bowl or a pot and filling it with water. Then, I shape my hand into a claw and use it to agitate the rice.
This brings up both debris and bugs that may have been missed during sorting.
WHY TOAST RICE
Toasting rice is a step some recipes require where you first lightly fry the uncooked rice. This step is usually done with rice that has not been rinsed.
As with toasting spices and nuts, toasting grains before cooking can enhance their flavor.
Rice is no exception, as it gains a nutty depth which adds extra layer of flavor to a final dish.
Another benefit is that by toasting the rice first, you are cooking the starches.
This, like washing rice, helps prevent the rice from being sticky. Instead, each grain cooks separately.
RATIO WATER TO RICE
There are many different types of rice. Most popular types require two cups of water for one cup of rice. Some however, need less water:
Short Grained Rice needs 1 and 1/8 cups water.
Basmati Rice needs 1 and 1/4 cups water
American Long Grained Rice needs 1 and 1/2 cups water
Jasmine Rice needs 1 and 3/4 cups water.
Also, when multiplying the recipe, rice often needs less water than you’d think. For example, with American long grain rice:
1 cup rice needs 1 and 1/2 cups water
2 cups rice need 2 and 3/4 cups water
3 cups rice need 3 and 1/2 cups water
HOW TO STORE
Transfer the cooled, cooked rice into an airtight storage container or a resealable plastic bag. Make sure to remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing it.
Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
HOW TO FREEZE
Transfer the cooled, cooked rice into a resealable freezer bag making sure to remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing.
Store for up to 3 months. After that, it is still safe to eat but the quality begins to degrade.
When reheating, place the rice in a pot, sprinkle a teaspoon of water over the top to help loosen stuck, dried grains, then place.
Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly to keep the grains moving, but be careful not to mash them.
Frozen grains can be added directly to hot dishes like stir-fries. If you’re planning on eating it on its own, follow the steps above.
Israeli Yellow Rice SNAFU:
Be very careful not to add too much turmeric.
This happened a couple times in my house. Once because my mother never measures anything, and once because I couldn’t find measuring spoons.
Both times, the rice came out tasting very soapy.
Also, do not try adding the turmeric after the rice is already made, we tried this once and the rice ended up with a dry texture.