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30 November, 2016

How to cook a no-fail, fluffy bowl of rice in a pan.

Comments : 4 Posted in : How To, Lentils, Rice & Grains on by : Ratna Tags: , , , ,



In  my  world  rice  can  be  synonymous  with  life.

The  grains  of  rice  are  so  intertwined  with  the  thread  of  life  that  by  pulling  on  one,  you  may  fray  the  other.  Rice  occupies  a  sacred  place  in  my  culture.

No  important  milestone  can  be  complete  without  rice.  The  first  solid  food  given  to  a  child  Mukhe  bhat,  literally  meaning  mouth  rice,  is  a  big  affair.  The  young  bride  walking  in  the  groom’s  house  is  marked  with  Bou  Bhat  or  bride  rice.  As  a  token  of  accepting  her  shared  responsibility  in  the  new  household  she  serves  rice  to  the  family  members. 


 Everyday  life  events  are  talked  about  with  a  string  of  rice  attached.  For  example, ‘  ‘It  was  Dudh  bhat,  translates  to  milk  rice  would  mean,  it  was  simple.  Dozing  off  after  lunch  would  be ‘ Bhat  ghum’,  or  rice  sleep  also  known  as  the  carb  induced  coma.  A  very  homey  invitation  would  be  ‘Bhat  kheye  jao’,  come  eat  rice.  I  can  go  on  and  on.

Boil  in  water  it  satiates,  grind  it  and  add  to  batter  to  give  a  crunch,  puffs  up  to  Murmura  or  “puffed  rice”. It  can  be  beaten  into  Poha  or  “thickened  rice, or made into  a  fermented  batter  for  lovely  crepes.  If  I  was  allowed  only  one  ingredient  to  have  in  my  pantry  that  could  keep  me  full,  yes,  that  would  be  rice.


Cooking  rice  did  not  start  from  washing  the  grains  in  water  as  we  are  used  to  doing  now.  I  remember  my  mother  using  a  wicker  bowl,  Kulo  or  soop,  to  separate  any  husks  or  stones  from  the  rice  grains.  Eyes  fixed  to  the  kulo,  she  would  easily  carry  on  a  conversation,  reminding  us  not  to  forget  to  pack  the  lunch  bag  for  school  or  give  out  the  grocery  list  to  my  dad,  Baba  as  we  addressed  him.  A  gentle  pat  at  the  back  of  the  Kulo,  would  make  the  husks  fly  out,  then  a  quick  run  with  fingers  to  pick  left  over  stones  if  any.

We  did  not  own  a  rice  cooker  or  fancy  measuring  cups.  Rice  was  always  cooked  in  a  pot,  Handi.  An  empty  old   Nestle’s  sweetened  condensed  milk  tin  that  had  seen  better  days  was  saved  to  serve  as  a  cup  measure.  Life  was  very  simple.

I  am  the  proud  owner  of   RC3406  Black  and  Decker  6  cup  rice  cooker  now.  The  non  stick  pot  has  a  tempered  glass  lid.  The  unit  even  boasts  of  automatically  switching  from  cook  to  warm  when  done.  Habits  die  hard  though.  Instead  of  me  embracing  the  cooker  for  my  rice,  a  plastic  cover  has  instead  embraced  the  gadget  and  it  sits  on  the  back  of  the  very  top  shelf  in  my  pantry.

The  method  of  rice  cooking  which  I  am  sharing  with  you  works  for  me  every  time.  You  are  a  star  if  the  grains  of  rice  stay  separate  and  not  clumped.

Recipe:  Serves  4.


Basmati  rice                                                           2  cups

Water                                                                       See  below

Sauce  pan  with  a  tight  fitting  lid.


Wash  the  rice  with  water.  Drain  the  water  out.

In  a  sauce  pan  take  the  above  rice.  Add  water.  The  amount  of  water  is  crucial.  This  is  how  I  measure  it.  Dip  the  fingers  of  your  right  hand  in  this  water.  (  The  figure  below  with  the  left  hand  gives  an  indication  ).  The  tip  of  the  middle  finger  gently  touching  the  top  surface  of  the  rice,  the  water  should  come  up  to  the  first  mark  on  the  inside  of  this  finger.  Repeat  this  measure  in  two  or  three  points  on  the  rice  surface,  to  get  an  average.  Add  or  deduct  water  accordingly.


Put  this  pan  on  high  heat  uncovered.  Wait  till  it  comes  to  a  boil  about  4          minutes.  Let  it  boil  until  it  forms  white  foam  on  the  surface,  another  2  minutes.  Cover  with  a  tight  fitting  lid  now  and  put  the  gas  off,  in  this  case  it  was  6  minutes  from  start.  Let  the  pan  sit  on  the  same  spot  on  the  gas  burner.   Do  not,  please  do  not  open  to  take  a  peek.  Let  it  sit  for  15  minutes  after  switching  the  gas  off.

The  rice  should  now  be  ready.  Fluff  it  up  with  a  fork  and  serve  hot  with  your choice  of  curries.

Inside  Scoop;

I  have  used  ‘Swad  Dehradun’  Basmati  rice.

Additives  like  salt  or  oil  have  sometimes  been  used  ,  I  prefer  mine  simple.

I  cooked  on  a  Frigidair  stove  top.  Sometimes  different  stoves  could  cause  a  minor  difference.

By  Ratna.





4 thoughts on : How to cook a no-fail, fluffy bowl of rice in a pan.

  • December 8, 2016 at 1:32 am

    Ufffff! I’m in love with this post. So true…bhat is indespensable to a Bengali. Bhat ghum is my dream since becoming a Mum. I talk and cry about it every Sunday:-) Lovely photos! Now who want’s meatballs for lunch…where is my bhat!!!

    • Ratna
      December 9, 2016 at 6:03 am

      You are cracking me up Sonali. LOl.I hear you when you say ‘Bhat ghum is my dream since becoming a mum’. True that! Glad you enjoyed, have a great rest of the week.

  • November 30, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    In the old days, when I was a girl scout, we needed to cook rice the old-fashioned way. I remembered that, within the same pot, the rice came out uncooked, burned and soggy!!!!! Cooking rice totally is NOT an easy task, and I am glad you show us today how to do it correctly without the rice cooker. I need to remember this 🙂
    Thank you so much, Ratna for such a useful post. 🙂

    • Ratna
      December 3, 2016 at 1:41 am

      Oh you are so kind Pang. I do like to hold on to traditions. Gadgets are good, I must say, as long as they work. Have a wonderful weekend my friend.

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