Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A Vintage of a Different Kind

We are used to hearing about vintage wines but the word is also used on other products – vintage clothing, vintage cars . . . and now vintage rice.

I had no idea that rice, like wine, has a vintage and that some years are considered to be far superior to others. Tilda has released a Vintage Basmati Rice which comes from the crop of 2006 which is said to be the best year for rice in recent history.

The Vintage Basmati Rice has been aged to create a richer, more separate grain, which producers say enhances its flavour. Basmati is grown primarily in Pakistan and northern India and has a fragrant flavour that makes it popular for curries. When farmers have an exceptionally good crop, they will generally set aside part of their haul for their families to eat on special occasions. This will then be aged to produce a stronger-tasting variety that goes especially well with red meat and game.

Tilda stored some of its 2006 harvest and claims the rice, which comes in a gold-coloured bag and is presented in a black gift box, has an ‘extraordinary nutty aroma and naturally sweet flavour’. The company’s marketing chief Vijay Vaidyanathan said:

“‘We are bringing something completely new to the rice category, creating a prestige product.

As a naturally fragrant rice, it develops more complex aromas and flavours over time, so by carefully storing the rice we are adding new dimensions to the existing offering.”

However, much like vintage wines, Tilda's Vintage Basmati Rice comes at a cost - it is more than five times the price of most supermarket own-brand basmati.

Tilda's website recommend a recipe by Luiz Hara that uses the Vintage Basmati Rice: Japanese Chestnut Rice (Kuri Gohan) here which is s made from a combination of Japanese short-grain and glutinous rice (mochi gome), water, mirin (a type of sweetened sake widely used in Japanese cooking), and chestnuts.

It's usually served with Japanese pork belly, caramelised with brown sugar, ginger and soy sauce but can also accompany roast partridge, pheasant or quail.

If you are searching for the perfect wine to do this recipe justice we'd suggest M de Malle 2005 which is ideal with feathered game and has complex flavours of white blossom, passion fruit, bees wax, quince, citrus fruits and spice. This is a beautifully structured wine that has a good burst of lemon acidity which will really bring out the aromas and flavours of the dish.