Rainbows of Rice

It’s simple, really.  Start with plain white rice, nothing special, and choose a direction, savory or sweet.  Rice is wonderfully versatile, and readily lends itself to nearly every imaginable culinary impulse.  Oh, and for an intriguing twist, choose a color to match each variety’s “mood.”  More about this shortly.

The yellow course, plotted above, follows a fairly familiar, savory course.  As you may have guessed, saffron – just a pinch! – is enough to impart a bright hue, which the rice absorbs when it soaks, and then is cooked, in stock infused with it.  A little duck stock was thawed, left over from a pho preparation you may recall from earlier, but any kind of stock, or even water, will do nicely.

After that, a couple mushrooms were minced then were sautéed in garlic and wine and  were added to the rice before it cooked.  After the rice finished, two orange grape tomatoes were diced and mixed into the rice.  With that, you have rice pilaf of a sort, a perfect companion for many a savory dish.  The specific ingredients will vary by each cook’s preferences, but you get the general idea.

In contrast, the blues and purples above represent a sweet preparation.  Coconut cream heavily flavors both, which coconut flakes and a scant dash of sugar intensifies.  Originally, both dishes were blue, but a lime’s-worth of juice added to the soaking liquid turned it purple.  After that rice cooked, and the liquid infused it, crushed pineapple was mixed into it.

The question is, what makes rice blue, or purple?  Soaking it, then cooking it, in a tisane made from brewing a dried Thai flower, butterfly pea.  Here’s what butterfly pea flowers look like before they go into the hot water:Butterfly Pea Flowers As soon as hot water hits the flowers, they infuse the liquid with rich cobalt hues:Butterfly BlueAfter that, all it takes is a bit of citrus to turn the liquid purple.  Magic!  This is how the tisane above appears after a squeeze of lime:Butterfly PurpleStrictly speaking, infusing the rice with color isn’t necessary, as it doesn’t change the  flavor or texture, but it does make things much more interesting, doesn’t it?  Just look at those gorgeous colors.  Wouldn’t they be a striking addition to any plate?


Savory Saffron Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • pinch of saffron, crushed
  • 2 cups stock (*1)
  • 2 mushrooms, minced, then sautéed (*2)
  • 2 grape tomatoes, diced

Pour the stock into a saucepan.  Stir in the saffron, and allow it to sit for five minutes, until the saffron begins to turn the stock yellow.  Stir in the rice and allow it to sit for at least twenty minutes.

Meanwhile,  mince two mushrooms, then saute them in a little garlic or butter, stirring frequently, until the mushroom turn light brown.

Mix the mushrooms into the rice and place he saucepan over a medium flame, stirring occasionally, until the liquid boils.  Cover the saucepan and turn off the heat, allowing it to sit undisturbed for at least twenty minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and serve.


1 – As mentioned in the introduction, I chose duck stock, though any kind of stock would work well.  For a purely vegetarian option, vegetable stock, or even water, would be a suitable replacement.

2 – Again, because I’m…particular, I went to the trouble of sauteeing the mushrooms in a little butter, minced garlic and, finally, a bit of chardonnay.  Using just butter instead, or even a bit of stock, is simpler, if a little less flavorful.


Sweet Coconut Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups hot water, in which butterfly pea flowers have soaked, then from which they have been removed (*3)
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons,  coconut cream (*4)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoon shredded coconut (*5)

In a saucepan, stir 1/2 cup of the coconut cream into the hot water until it dissolves.  Stir in the rice and allow it to sit for at least twenty minutes.  Stir in the sugar.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir in the remaining two tablespoons of coconut cream.  Let the mixture come to a boil, then cover.  Turn off heat and let saucepan sit undisturbed for at least twenty minutes.

Stir in the shredded coconut and serve.


3 – Of course, “plain” hot water will do the same thing, but then you wouldn’t get the interesting blue color.

4 – If you can’t find coconut cream, use the thick white liquid that you find at the top of unshaken cans of coconut milk.  This too is the cream, actually, but it likely will take two cans of coconut milk to get enough cream, and you need to take care not jostle the cans too vigorously.

5 – A quarter-cup of crushed pineapple would be a nice touch.  If you prefer a purple rice, mix in a couple tablespoons of citrus juice at the very beginning, even before stirring in the coconut cream.  I chose lime juice, though orange juice or tangerine juice would be great too.



25 thoughts on “Rainbows of Rice

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! Honestly, I was rather skeptical butterfly pea flowers would produce a tea so vibrant, though I’m pleased to have been wrong. Archetypes do exist!

      Rice is so wonderful a medium, lending itself to nearly every flavor scheme. Coconut cream is a particularly winning companion.

      And we haven’t even talked yet about when the rice itself is of a different color. I just bought a batch of black rice, a Chinese variety that, by legend, once was reserved for the imperial court. On pain of death, hence the name, “Forbidden Rice.” Do I dare cook with it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keep reading, Jennifer, as black rice is bound to guest star one of these months or so!

        What’s cool is that it retains its obsidian tones even when cooked. Unlike purple asparagus, which looks striking, and promptly turns olive drab when cooked, black rice does not disappoint! Maybe that’s why Emperors and Empresses of centuries past guarded it so jealously.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. My mother had major rice cravings when she was expecting me, and so the die was cast before I even came into our world!

      If you haven’t tried the rice with coconut cream and pineapple it’s a definite recommendation. I think you’ll like it, and you may forego the theater of turning the rice a different color. White rice is fine, albeit less of a distraction.

      As for the “”savory” variety, you may want to try vegetable stock (instead of duck stock, of course) with a few drops of olive oil. Mushrooms are the star here, in my opinion.

      Much appreciate your continued interest, Kate!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Really, if someone is inspired to try one of the recipes it’s flattering, though the main objective is to generate discussion of the dishes (as we’re doing here). Well that, and satisfying a personal curiosity as to what he dish is like.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much obliged, Daniela! Welcome back (so to speak).

      Oh yes, mushrooms. Little miracles is what they are, actually.

      I quite agree about coconuts too. Fattening, yes, but so worth an extra hour at the gym. “What’s the brother gonna do? He’s Samoan.” Yes, more coconuts!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Tamara – coconut milk can do no wrong. Of course, that luxuriousness does exact a price. Recall that line from Pulp Fiction, wherein an actor asked, “What’s the brother gonna do? He’s Samoan.”

      As for the savory variety, nearly all the world’s cuisines use rice and, effectively, they all have chicken, so poultry-amped rice is about as close as humanity comes to sharing a universal dish.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Smart. Starting your day well, eh Tamara?

        My mother ate rice when she was expecting me. I must’ve given her the craving. That, in turn, explains my lifelong obsession with Asian cuisines.

        Still, can’t hope to match the Thais, who eat their weight in sticky rice every year. Seriously. More about that particular culinary delight (sticky rice) in a future post.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not as much as I savor the subsequent discussions, Tamara!

        The posts only are so much blah, blah, blah, but soon enough, they sparkle. What happens? What’s the secret ingredient? Your comments and reminisces, of course!

        Anyone can cook, and enthuse about the same, but the reason I get up on the soapbox every week is…this.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I understand this joy of discussion back-and-forth with others, more than most. I have secluded myself, for the most part, and it is my only bit of human contact for the time being. I am still healing. These last few days have been particularly devastating to me due to unforeseen occurrences.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You said it, sister!

        If these exchanges see you through until you pop back up to the surface, ultimately, they’ll be just what was needed. By the way, there are thoughts on the comments you posted on Eliiza’s site…

        Liked by 1 person

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