Taking rice to the next level | How to cook the perfect rice

Taking rice to the next level – How to cook the perfect rice

Recently we have rekindled an old love, that being our love of rice. It is a wonderful versatile food substance that you can do so much with. And yet as a nation we tend to stick the usual suspects, boiled, fried or if it’s a special occasion then maybe a pilau.

Well we have been playing with rice lately and have decided that we should eat it far more often than we tend to do. The reason for this change of heart, simple really, we started to look at rice from a different perspective.

I cooked a curry one night, lovely chicken madras, except there was a problem. My parents had recently brought round some home grown chillies, they looked like a standard chillies, plump and green or red. They sure didn’t look like the distant cousin of the ghost chilli that they turned out to be. Sat there with a bubbling pot of molten lava I started to look for ways to tame the beast. I exhausted my usual trick of adding cream and yoghurt, on the plus side it did make the curry taste even more wonderful but alas did little to reduce the heat. As a last resort I decided to add pineapple and apple chunks to the rice so that my diners would get some relief from the chillies as they ate the cooling fruits. To a greater extent it did work, yes we were all sat there with tissues for runny noses and eyes, and yes the conversation was dominated with talk of chillies and their power but we all survived and all plates where mostly empty. What I did take away from the occasion was a keen desire to try other combinations with my rice recipe.

Many people have a problem with the cooking of rice complaining that it usually ends up soggy or undercooked and that it was hard to hit the sweet spot for perfect cooked rice. Well rest assured readers that this is a problem for you no more. With my fool proof recipe below you will be turning out wonderfully flavourful fluffy rice.

So here is an example of a wonderfully diverse rice dish that with go with a wide range of meals. I think that if you view rice the same way you would a slice of bread, or a pizza base or even a bowl of pasta (i.e. a blank canvas) then suddenly your imagination is flooded with possibilities. Add what you have in the cupboards, what is almost past its sell by date or just what you have specifically bought to try, the point is whatever you try it’s amazing what comes out at the end.

How to cook the perfect rice

Ingredients:

  • 250g rice (basmati rice is a good choice)
  • 25g butter; unsalted
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic diced or crushed

Make a spice mix with the following:

  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp of coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Half a dozen of green cardamoms

You will also need:

  • 500ml water
  • 1tsp of turmeric

Our additions to the above included:

  • A can of pineapple chunks
  • Handful of sultanas
  • Handful of whole almonds
  • A couple of apples

Method:

Wash the rice in running cold water, tradition says that you should wash it seven times till the water runs clear, and then leave in a final bowl of clean water for at least an hour to soak.

In a clean dry frying pan over a gentle heat cook the spice mix for 2 minutes to help waken the spices up. When done add to a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and turn to a powder.

In a heavy based saucepan that will have a tight fitting heavy lid add some butter and oil to heat up. When hot add the onions and cook till soft, then add your garlic and turn the heat to medium low and cook till golden in colour, about 20 minutes.

Drain your rice so it’s quite dry.

Add the spice mix and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the rice and turmeric and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly then finally add your water and salt. Put on the lid and leave to come to the boil. Once it is boiling gently start timing 15 minutes.

NO MATTER WHAT EVEN IF THE KITCHEN COLLAPSES AROUND YOU DO NOT TAKE THE LID OFF THE SAUCEPAN, NOT EVEN FOR A PEEK, NOT JUST ONCE, NOT EVER… EVER!

After fifteen minutes remove the pan from the heat and set aside, and just in case you’re curious about having a peek please refer to the above shouty sentence. Let the rice stand for a further 15-20 minutes to rest and finish cooking.

Melt some butter in a frying pan and cook the almonds and sultanas for 5 minutes whilst you wait.
You can also core and dice you apples and drain the pineapple.

Finally when the rice is done, decant it into a large serving bowl and add all the other pieces and give it a good stir, and serve.

Taking rice to the next level - How to cook the perfect riceTaking rice to the next level & How to cook the perfect rice

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