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Wild Rice

Wild rice, also known as Canada Rice, Indian Rice and Water Oats, is an aquatic rice species that is an offshoot of four different types of grasses. This dark colored rice was once consumed extensively in North America and China; however, though it is still consumed in North America, only the stem of the plant is used as a vegetable in China and not the grains. The highly nutritious and delicious Indian rice recipes have been part of North American (Canadian and Indian to be precise), Chinese and Australian cuisines for many centuries. But because of its wild nature, the cultivation of the grain dwindled over time and today only a couple of cuisines include recipes of this rice.

History of Wild Rice Recipes

Wild Rice, scientifically known as Zizania Palustris, has been consumed since the pre-historic time. This grain has been the staple food of the Chippewa and Ojibwa Indians of North America for over 1000 years, who called the rice “Manimin”, meaning ‘good berry’. The rice is native to North America, where it has been abundantly grown in the Great Lakes region, which is prevalent even today. The Indians harvested the grain in water beds with the help of canoes. This rice grass grew wildly even in China; however, due to population explosion and lack of space, domesticating the growth of the grass was difficult. Because of this, growth of the grain soon depleted. But in recent times many delicious Chinese Wild oats recipes have gained prominence. The grain has been cultivated since 1952 in Minnesota and many gourmet recipes are made with Indian rice.

Popular Indian Rice Recipes

This rice is popular not only with the North Americans, but also with the Chinese who used for various dishes ranging from salads to main course. Some popular wild rice recipes are –

Steak and Cabbage Wild Rice Soup– This is one of the many popular and delicious Canada rice recipes that is made with chopped cabbage, cubed chuck steak, cooked rice, baby cut carrots, and onions, all boiled in beef broth which has been flavored with garlic and caraway seeds sautéed in vegetable oil. Swiss or Caraway cheese is also added and the soup is finally garnished with salt and pepper. After simmering a while, the soup is ready to be served topped with cheese.

Wild Rice Salsa Salad– The ingredients that go into the salad are cooked rice, Niblets corn, coarsely chopped green pepper, coarsely chopped zucchini, chopped Roma tomatoes, sliced green onions, coarsely chopped Cilantro, sliced ripe olives, and Monterey Jack Cheese. All these ingredients are tossed well with sour cream, salsa, canola oil and salt. The salad is served chilled.

Wild Rice Meatloaf – This meatloaf is made with ground lean beef. Other ingredients that go into this Indian rice recipe are cooked rice, chopped green and red peppers, chopped garlic, eggs and Mozzarella cheese. The meatloaf is spiced with Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, Thompson’s Black Tie medium n spicy sauce, salt and pepper. All the ingredients are mixed well and baked in a loaf pan.

Wild Rice Dressing– This wonderful dish is prepared with cooked Indian rice, crisp bacon slices, sautéed onion and celery. All the ingredients are tossed together with melted butter, seasonings such as sage, salt and pepper, and chicken stock for moistening the ingredients. This mixture is then baked in an open pan. The bake is generally used as a stuffing in pork chops, acorn squash or any other vegetable of choice.

Ham and Wild Rice Cakes– This is another one of the delicious Indian rice recipes that is made by mixing cooked rice, diced smoked ham, corn kennels, sliced green onions and eggs in a bowl and seasoned with cayenne pepper, sage, sugar, salt and pepper. A pancake like batter is then prepared with flour (with baking powder), to which the the rice mixture is added and milk to make a smooth batter. The batter is poured into a hot skillet with melted butter. These ham and Indian rice pan cakes are generally served with applesauce or maple syrup.

Wild and white rice salad, Wild Rice Mushroom Caps and Rolled Roast Lamb with Indian rice and orange seasoning are other popular Indian rice recipes.

Nutritional Value of Wild Rice Recipes

Indian rice is a highly nutritious grain that is high in protein, amino acid such as lysine, dietary fiber, and vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin and the rice is also a good source of minerals such as potassium and phosphorous.

Water Oats Trivia

The rice gets infected with a toxic fungus called ‘ergot’, which is highly dangerous when eaten. One way to recognize infected grains is to note if they have pink or purplish growths or blotches, which are an indication of the fungus. The grain also tends to develop certain diseases that are bacterial, fungal and viral which tends to make it inconsumable.

This rice has been nominated as the ‘State Grain’ of Minnesota.

Wild rice is grown as an ornamental plant in many water ponds.