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Shelley keeps the beginner cooks up to speed!

Yes, I was serious in my bio about this whole rice thing. It really is something I’ve had to work at, much to my chagrin. You see, I recently discovered my significant other is a much better cook than me. He has a real flair for it actually. Currently, he is on the quest to make the perfect vindaloo, and I dare say he has accomplished that goal.

But you can’t eat vindaloo on it’s own, it requires an accompaniment: basmati rice. That’s where I step in, or rather that’s where I was finally allowed to step in after caving in on the demands to get rid of the microwave rice. You know the kind of rice I’m talking about, in the orange pouch with the familiar labeling of a rice dynasty that need only warm up in the microwave for 90 seconds? It had always been a staple in my cupboard. But it just wasn’t cutting it when paired with the painstaking effort and attention to detail you can taste in every bite of the long-developed vindaloo. In my heart I knew the only way I was going to be allowed to assist in the dinner making was to step up to the stove and away from the microwave.
I found my way via a nifty little Indian cookbook I had been given for my birthday by a dear friend. There it was, plain as day, a recipe for plain boiled rice. The secret, it turns out, is all in the rinsing. Who knew?

I had at long last accepted that I would have to spend more than 90 seconds cooking, but I still was not prepared to spend almost an hour on the whole process due to thirty minutes of soaking, a girl’s gotta eat! Luckily there is a shortcut:

1. Place 1 cup uncooked basmati rice in a small bowl
2. Cover with cold water
3. Carefully pour the water from the bowl (a sieve might be a big help here–which I figured out after dumping a whole bowl of rice in the sink)
4. Repeat 3-4 times (try to get the water as clear as possible, but if you can’t tell, then 4 should be enough)
5. Pour drained rice into a saucepan (size matters! you don’t want it too big or too small, although if all you have is too big or too small, stick with too big)
6. Add 2 cups water (you add more water on the shortcut method than you would if you soaked the full thirty minutes; 2 cups water will only work if you’ve really rinsed 3-4 times!)
7. Bring to boil (high heat)
8. Stir (JUST THIS ONCE—seriously, that was my fatal flaw all these years, just let the rice sit and simmer, don’t stir it to death!)
9. Reduce heat (low heat), and cover
10. Simmer 10 minutes, or until you see dimples form on top of the rice (this means the water is completely absorbed)
11. Turn off heat (DO NOT STIR)
12. Let rice sit, covered, for at least 5 minutes or until ready to serve
13. Fluff with a FORK before serving (as I have learned to my sorrow, spoons break and mash the rice)

And there you have it, a recipe for plain basmati rice that will do wonders for your relationship. Lately I’ve even been adding a little spice—to the rice—by throwing in a cinnamon stick and a few cloves while the water is getting to a boil.

If you are of long-grained challenged variety, I really hope this helps you. If you are of the accomplished cook variety, unable to remember a time when you had trouble with rice, keep it to yourself!


sara February 14, 2011 at 7:51 am

Love the article, Shelley! …. and can’t wait to one day try it with the vindaloo!

natalie February 15, 2011 at 11:34 am

Love basmati rice! The scent of it even rocks!!

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