How to cook rice

My first recollections of rice include ‘Uncle Ben’s’ long grain, earnest boiling and rinsing as an accompaniment to the family curry (derived from an army kitchen recipe that my Dad brought home after his National Service in Cyprus. This was the 70’s however and few families we knew either cooked rice or could prepare a curry!

Then I discovered a truly inspirational article by the erudite gastronome Clement Freud – who described his perfect rice method – based on a traditional Asian steaming method – and I’ve been using this with excellent results for over 30 years. Here’s Clements method:

Brown basmati rice from India

Image via Wikipedia

For approx. 4 people use 1 cup of basmati rice (try and get a good brand – many varieties are adulterated with low quality substitutes).

I diced onion

1/2 tsp of cumin seed

Boiling water (from kettle)

Oil (plain not olive) and/or butter – a tablespoon of each.

Method: in a heavy saucepan (which has a lid) warm oil/butter until foaming and add diced onion – sweat until soft/gold. (Give it at least 5 mins). Meantime rinse the rice a coupe of times and drain.

When onion is translucent drop in cumin (oh – and a bay leaf works well) and dump in rice. Stir to coat the grains then pour over boiling water and fill until the rice is submerged in the water to a depth around an inch – or from the tip of your index finger to just above the first joint. (Don’t put your finger in to measure – you just boiled the water, didn’t you?)

Over a medium heat (gas is easiest) bring the pan to a steady boil then turn to lowest possible heat and cover with a piece of kitchen roll and push on the lid. Leave for 10 minutes then turn it off and leave for a further 10 mins. NO PEEKING! The rice is steaming and if you open the lid you’ll lose the steam. When the steaming period has passed open the lid and drag a long-tined fork side-on gently through the rice to separate and serve.

Rose Prince has an alternative which I can’t vouch for (haven’t tried it yet) but it appears similar and breaks the method into 3 stages:

I call my method of cooking it the “555” recipe.

Wash 8oz/225g basmati rice then put it in a pan covered with about 15mm water. Boil for 5 minutes with the lid off, simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on, then turn off the heat and steam for another 5 minutes without removing the lid. Fork it through to loosen the grain.

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About chris

The eternal optimist...
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