Globalization has led to the integration of trade and culture. Earlier considered as a luxury, international traveling has now become a usual thing for some and a necessity for others. Nowadays, when a person travels to a different country, there is a certain level of curiosity due to cultural differences. Something similar happened to me when I visited Germany for the first time. Before the commencement of the University, I went to visit my friends in Stuttgart just to make myself comfortable with this new atmosphere. They were living in Germany for 5 years, had full-time jobs, and were married. I still remember my first night at their house when I saw them using an electric rice cooker.
The next day, I looked up the statistics of the rice cooker market out of curiosity. I was amazed when I saw that the market was valued at 3.2 billion USD. Not only this, but the market is expected to grow with a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 6.8% from 2019 to 2026. As cheerful as it sounds for the rice cooker market, it is equally worse news for the traditional, precisely the correct, method of cooking rice.
The traditional method of cooking rice is indeed the simplest, the most convenient, and requires basic utensils. But in order to understand the process, knowing about different kinds of rice is crucial.
Classification of Rice
On the basis of the degree of nutrition, we have White rice, Brown rice, Forbidden rice, and Wild rice. White rice is processed rice implying that all the nutritious layers are removed. It is rich in carbohydrates. This variety of rice is regarded as the staple food of more than half of the world’s population. Brown rice is extremely healthy as the nutritious bran and germ layers are retained. It has gained popularity in the last decade as a healthy substitute for white rice. Forbidden rice and Wild rice are not very popular. Forbidden rice has a high nutritional value. It is commonly used in Chinese and Thai cuisines. Wild rice is rich in protein and is used to add an exotic and colorful flavor.
On the basis of species, we have Indica rice and Japonica rice. They are completely different from each other. Indica is long, slender, and slightly flat while Japonica is short and roundish. Indica has 0-20% Amylose content (a component of starch) while it is 23-31% in Japonica. Indica is fluffy and separated when cooked while Japonica is moist and sticky. Indica is mainly cultivated in China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and some parts of Africa. Japonica is mainly cultivated in Japan and Korea.
Cooking Rice Correctly
People around the world consume different kinds of rice. Also, cooking rice is subjective; there are multiple ways that depend upon the kind of rice, and the region. In this section, I focus on the four most popular kinds of rice across the globe. These are Basmati rice (Indica), Jasmine rice (Indica), Arborio rice (Japonica), and Brown rice. Under each of them, the focus will be on identifying the important steps of cooking rice correctly, why these steps are important, and how they will lead to perfectly cooked rice.
- RINSING: It is extremely important to rinse it 3-4 times in tap water until the water starts getting transparent. This is because it removes the excess amount of starch present in the rice.
- SOAKING: This is an important step while cooking Basmati rice as soaking raw rice for 30-40 minutes makes the cooked rice fluffier and lighter.
- AMOUNT OF WATER: The most important thing is to be sure that abundant water is being used. The purpose is to drain excess water once the cooking process is over. Hence, for every cup of Basmati, 4-5 cups of water should be added.
- IMPROVING QUALITY: It is, indeed, best to add some oil in order to prevent the rice from sticking to the base. The pot should not be covered with a lid and rice should be boiled on high heat for 6-8 minutes.
- ATTRACTION: The best part is the pleasant fragrance that comes during the boiling process of Basmati that must be enjoyed with closed eyes. It is a beautiful feeling.
- RESTING: After 8 minutes, the leftover water should be drained. But before serving, it is important to leave the rice with a lid for 5 minutes so that the rice gets cooked evenly by the excess heat.
You can watch – Wie kocht man Basmati Reis richtig?
- RINSING: Unlike Basmati, rinsing is not a compulsion while cooking Jasmine, but it is always better to do it 1-2 times as it not only removes excess starch but also removes dirt.
- AMOUNT OF WATER: With Jasmine, soaking is skipped. For every cup of Jasmine, 1.3 cups of water should be added.
- IMPROVING QUALITY: The key to cooking the Jasmine rice perfectly is the heat level. For the first 3 minutes, the rice must be cooked on medium heat. After that, it must be allowed to cook on low heat. A pinch of salt is recommended along with a lid to cover the pot.
- ATTRACTION: Of course, this has to be the best part while cooking Jasmine as well. During the boiling process, generally, after 10 minutes, remove the lid, close your eyes, and just enjoy the pleasant fragrance that comes out with a giant cloud of steam. The only difference being the increased level of sweetness in fragrance, similar to that of Jasmine flower, after which it was named.
- RESTING: After the boiling process is complete, it is important to leave the rice with its lid for 5 minutes so that the rice gets cooked evenly by the excess heat.
You can watch – Wie kocht man Jasminreis richtig?
- RINSING: With Arborio, it is considered important to rinse it a few times in tap water. As it is a storehouse of starch, the purpose is not to make the water transparent, but to remove only the excess.
- AMOUNT OF WATER: With Arborio also, soaking is skipped. For every cup of Arborio, 3-4 cups of water should be added. But, the trick is to start with 1 cup of water initially and wait for it to dissolve. Once it gets dissolved, start adding ½ a cup of water every time until finally cooked.
- IMPROVING QUALITY: Initially, ½ teaspoon of Oil and a pinch of salt should be added to water before adding rice. Cooking Arborio is a lengthy process as it can take 15-20 minutes. It is imperative that Arborio is cooked on medium flame.
- CAUTION: It is recommended to taste the rice once each ½ cup of water gets dissolved as it is very easy to overcook them. If the texture feels creamy and a little amount of resistance can be felt while chewing, that means it’s perfectly cooked. On the other hand, if it feels like baby food with no resistance while chewing, it is overcooked and if it feels slightly firm, then more water should be added.
- ATTRACTION: Arborio does not have a distinct fragrance, but it does possess an excessive amount of starch which allows it to turn creamier as more water gets dissolved, thus, enhancing the texture.
- RESTING: Arborio should also be left with its lid for 5 minutes so that the rice gets cooked evenly by the excess heat.
- RINSING: Just like every other rice, it is important to rinse brown rice as well for the same reasons.
- SOAKING: This is the most important step as the naturally occurring phytic acid gets removed, which improves digestibility and reduces cooking time.
- AMOUNT OF WATER: As brown rice has 2 extra layers than white rice, it is evident that more water is required. Along with that, the purpose is to add abundant water so that excess water can be drained at the end. Therefore, for every cup of brown rice, 6 cups of water should be added.
- BOILING: After brown rice is added to boiling water, it must be cooked uncovered on medium heat for 30 minutes. After that, the excess water should be drained.
- RESTING: After the boiling process is complete, it is important to leave the rice with a lid for 10 minutes so that the rice gets cooked evenly by the excess heat.
Rice acts as a symbol of simplicity. Traditionally, rice has been cooked simply using a stove, a pot, and a lid. These are three of those kitchenwares which can be found in every kitchen around the world. It requires water as a primary ingredient to cook, and salt to add flavor, thus making it extremely convenient to prepare. Along with that, it is not rocket science to cultivate rice as it has been produced since ancient times.
As a matter of fact, some things are way too convenient already; perhaps innovation might increase the complexity. The beauty of cooking rice lies in its simplicity. The correct way is enjoying this simplicity along with enjoying the fragrance and the texture, it possesses within.