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Friday, 8 June 2012

The quest for perfection in a bowl of pepper rice

Every time I served up mushy or crunchy rice I wished for a magic rice pot.
I was always a victim of the untrue promises on the packs of Basmati rice.
Precious minutes would be spent in the rice section of the departmental store playing inky pinky ponky with the various brands of rice in their shiny packaging. The busy crowded aisle would be braved at least four times (apologising to glaring fellow shoppers) to exchange the chosen rice packet for a different brand and a different packet colour. 
Back home the instructions on the pack would be replicated with scientific accuracy (God help the husband if he dared to discard the pack).
 Surprise! Surprise! The result would always be the same. There were two easy words to aptly sum up my efforts – overcooked or undercooked.
The Promised Land was far away. The land of long grains that miraculously fell away from each other with ease while being perfectly cooked inside and fluffy and white on the outside eluded me.
All the rice I had ever eaten, mocked me as I stared at my plate of squishy squashy rice that still had a few crunchy grains in between.
Then one day something magical happened. I was blessed with a neighbour whose rice was legendary. The aroma of her rice was a crowd puller and it was difficult to remind yourself that you were on a diet when she started cooking rice.
Many days of growling stomachs later I finally begged my neighbour for her secret. It was unbelievably simple – she just cooked rice in the rice cooker.
There was a mad dash to the market. The magical gadget – the rice cooker was bought and commissioned – and lo and behold – I was the rice queen too.
And now Dhruba – thanks to you – I can make the perfect bowl of rice too.
This recipe is dedicated to you my friend Dhruba.
Pepper Rice
1.     Measure out a cup of rice.
2.     Wash the rice well in two changes of water. Be gentle so that the grains don’t break
3.     Heat a tablespoon of oil in a kadhai
4.     Add a teaspoon full of whole black pepper and a teaspoonful of jeera to the oil.
5.     Add some salt ( to taste)
6.     Put the rice in the rice cooker and add exactly double the amount of water to the rice. In this case - two cups. Make sure it is the same cup that you used to measure out the rice.
7.     Now pour the oil with the spices over the water in the cooker
8.     Mix a bit
9.     Switch on the rice cooker. When the rice is done and the rice cooker switches off on its own, gently prod the rice with a fork. Some of the spices that remain on the surface can be pushed in deeper with this. Be careful not to mix too much otherwise you will break the grains.
Serve up! This goes really well with everything but my favourite pairing is either with chicken, or Dal Makhani or Boondi raita. Ah! Heavenly.
Thanks Dhruba.

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