Rice has fed more people around the globe, over a longer period of time, than any other crop.
This tiny white grain has been documented in history books as far back as 2500 BC. In China, where it originated from, rice was considered to be the gift of animals. Legend has it that after a disastrous flooding, there was no food available since all the crop had been destroyed. But one day, a dog ran through the fields into a village, where some people noticed he had rice seeds hanging from his tail. The villagers decided to plant the seeds. Et voila! Rice grew and hunger disappeared.
Other countries have folklore related to rice, as well. In India, the deity Vishnu is said to have produced rice from the Earth while the deity Indra taught people how to cultivate it. In Myanmar, the Kachins were said to have been sent forth from the centre of the Earth with rice seeds, and were directed to a country where it would grow and their numbers would thrive.
The fact that rice is such a hardy, adaptable crop has helped it become the primary source of food in several countries around the world. In fact, it is grown in every single continent except Antarctica! Just one seed of rice results in over 3,000 grains.
Even the Great Wall of China is held together by rice! When it was being built during the Ming dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries, workers used a slurry made with sticky rice and calcium carbonate to hold the stones of the Wall together.
Today, this robust grain is used in a variety of dishes, from main courses to snacks and desserts. Try this Korean kimchi fried rice recipe for a satisfying, savoury, tangy meal, or make a versatile lemon rice from south India that’s perfect eaten on its own. Or give Bahrain’s national dish a try - chicken machboos or spiced chicken rice!
The options are as diverse as the countries they are from.