Monday, February 25, 2013

Three Ways to Cook Rice


Since both your dad and I ate a lot of rice when we were growing up, rice is a staple in our kitchen. Your Indian grandparents served your dad rice and dal (e.g., lentils) many times a week. I loved red bean and rice Mondays even when the school cafeteria served it for lunch and Grandma cooked them for dinner. When I went to college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, rice and brown gravy were available in the school cafeteria every day at lunch and dinner. When your uncle went to the University of Colorado at Boulder, potatoes were more common and rice was served only a couple of times a semester.

We usually have both jasmine and basmati rice at home. We use jasmine as our every day rice and use basmati for biryani, jambalaya, and pilaf. Some of the brands of jasmine rice we use are Super Lucky Elephant, Golden Star, and Three Dragons. I buy jasmine rice at HMart, Sam’s or Costco in large bags of 15 or more pounds and pay less than $1 per pound. I store the extra in a large Tupperware container or empty plastic ice cream buckets. Royal Basmati is one brand of basmati rice we like. I buy basmati rice at either an Indian grocery, Sam’s or Costco.

The key to cooking rice is using the right proportion of water to rice. I find that 1 cup rice to 2 cups water works well for jasmine rice. For basmati, I use 1 cup rice to 2 1/2 cups water. Depending on the rice, you might need to vary these amounts, but I find these ratios work fairly consistently.

When I was growing up, your grandma boiled rice in salted water and drained it in a colander. I prefer to cook it either in a rice cooker, a pot, or pressure cooker. I usually cook 1 ½ - 2 cups of rice at a time for the four of us. This is usually more than enough for a meal, and the extra rice can be used for another dish

Rice Cooker

My first choice for cooking rice is using a rice cooker. I use a vintage Hitachi rice cooker I bought at a thrift store. It is so easy that my son has been making rice since he was eight. You put the rice and water in the cooker and switch it on. When it dings signifying the rice is ready, switch it off and wait at least 5 minutes before serving. Our rice cooker has a keep warm setting, but I prefer not to use it because I find it dries out the rice.

Pot with Lid

I use a 3 quart Revere Ware stainless steel pot with a lid to cook 1 ½ - 2 cups rice. Put the rice and water in pot, bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 11 minutes. Turn off heat and wait 5 minutes before serving.

FYI, I just found out that you can order Revere Ware replacement parts at

Pressure Cooker

A pressure cooker is good for cooking rice if you want it to stay warm for a while before eating it. Put bottom steam tray in cooker, add water to cover steam tray, put pan with rice and water in cooker. If desired, you can add a second pan on top of the rice pan to heat beans or vegetables while your rice cooks. Put lid and weight on cooker. Heat on high until reaching pressure when cooker whistles and weight rocks. Reduce heat to medium high and cook for 5 minutes. Allow pressure cooker to cool before opening.

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