Fried Rice: The Greatest Mixtape

Fried Rice. The Ultimate Mixtape
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Many times, people say “this goes without saying” when talking about something that obviously goes without saying.

This goes without saying…but fried rice is spectacular. We’ll get into this shortly, but first, let’s get into the why.


A BRITISH-BORN INDIAN BOY

As a British-Indian, immigrant, and son of life (and soon to be an American)…rice is very important to me. Growing up, my meals consisted of four things: chapati, daal, some sort of bhaji (props to Priya Krishna for always bringing greater awareness of food). When I was done with a couple of chapatis (bread), I would plop down a handful or two of fragrant and sensory intoxicating rice.

I say handfuls not because I was a savage (maybe?), but because we used a massive serving spoon of freshly cooked basmati rice. This oval-shaped utensil was sized like the hand of a growing kid.

The rice was important because usually after eating chapati, I would be about 25% full. Still hungry. I was a growing boy, and that couldn’t be the end of it for me. It was the rice that soaked up ALL of those fragrant and saucy flavors that were on my plate.

I’ve always associated rice with getting full and being satisfied. It’s always made me happy.

a plate of indian food

Dinner looked a little like this when I was growing up. Chapati, vegetables, chicken (if we were lucky), daal, and of course…rice.

It was this time spent eating at my family’s dinner table where I started getting curious about all the things I could add to rice to make it more delicious.

Before I went out to my first Asian restaurant, I was experimenting with different condiments like sambal, soy sauce, and whatnot. Once I started going out to restaurants, it was game over for the world.

Over the years, I found different things to accompany rice. Sometimes it was Chinese food, and other times it was just a fried egg, but there was one way of eating rice that really gave me true happiness…real bliss. Fried rice.

I found my love.


A FRIED RICE EXERCISE

Do me a favor. After you are done reading this paragraph, close your eyes. Think about fried rice for 15 seconds. What comes to mind?

Now open your eyes…what did you think of? New York City deli-style rice? Something from P.F. Changs? Or maybe, it was that delicious kimchi fried rice from your favorite Korean joint in Los Angeles?

And while I am at it, I don’t want to hear that you are too good for P.F. Changs. Anyway…

I can survey my friends right now, and I would get several different answers on what type of fried rice comes to mind.

fried rice with kimchi

If food were an album, fried rice would be the greatest mixtape.

There are millions of variations, and there’s no need to get into recipes right now. The varieties seem infinite, just like a mixtape.

Let’s just appreciate all the different kinds of fried rice.

  • New York-style Fried Rice
  • Kimchi Fried Rice
  • Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)
  • Nigerian Fried Rice
  • Biryani
  • Kichari
  • Arroz Chaufa

This list is just from the top of my head. The dishes I enjoy. I’m here to shout from the rafters, that fried rice is where it’s at.

The variety this dish offers is a symphony of flavor. You want it with lots of seafood? How about ground meat? Or just vegetables? Perhaps you want it with a latin flair?

We live in a world where rules have taken over our culinary desires. Fried rice is the one dish that really embodies the words: variety is the spice of life.

Now…close your eyes again after finishing THIS paragraph. You are imagining a bowl of fried rice, but this time, you can have ANY set of ingredients you’d like.

What did you choose?

There are no wrong answers with how you like your fried rice, and that is why it’s my favorite dish.

One last thing…repeat after me…

FRIED FUCKIN’ RICE!

(exhales)

On a final note (and if you missed it), check out my post on freewriting in Iceland. I talk a little bit about my food history there. And if you want to get crazy, read my post about lampredotto.

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