Simple Cooking #5: Cooking rice in an earthen pot
Rice is cooked in various ways traditionally. However, today many urban homes simply use an electric rice cooker. That saves them a lot of bother. The cooker automatically cooks the rice once you have put in the right amount of water and raw rice. Some use a pressure cooker to cook rice in, and that's equally convenient and simple.
But there is a new trend now, and it's all about going back to traditional ways and traditional cookware, in the search for better health and longevity. I have also invested in some earthenware, and cast iron cookware. I remember that during childhood rice was invariably cooked in an earthen pot and this pot was broken and a new one obtained each new year during Cheiraoba. But there were no gas stoves at that time, and there are doubts now in some minds as to whether we can use earthen pots safely on a gas stove. Yes, we can, and I have done so. You too can try it. Lets begin with simply cooking some rice.
Ingredients are raw rice and water. Here I have used one small katori/bowl of basmati rice. When it comes to cooking rice the amount of water to be used would depend on the variety of rice used, and the cooking method, whether in a pressure cooker or rice cooker or open vessel. I am also talking of the method where all the water gets soaked up in the process of cooking, and is not to be drained. The amount of water required while cooking in an earthen pot is a little more than usual. I have used 3 katoris of water to one katori of aged basmati rice. The amount would vary depending on the type of rice used. Just use a little more water than you usually do for the kind of rice you use and cook in a pressure cooker.
Wash rice. Put into the earthen pot. Add water. Cover. Now light the gas on low and place the pot over the low fire. This is absolutely necessary as the pot could crack if put straightaway on high heat. After 4-5 mins the flame could be raised to medium and then high till the water begins to boil. Once it starts to boil, the pot can be put on simmer as rice has a tendency to boil over. After about 20 mins from start you will notice that most of the water has been absorbed and the upper layer of the rice is dry. At this stage, when there is some amount of water still left in the pot, put off the flame, cover the pot with a lid and leave the rice to further cook in the retained heat for another 10 mins. It is important that you do not keep opening the lid at this stage,as that would result in heat escaping and disturbing the cooking process.
And so, we are done. We have made the perfect steaming hot rice for our meal. There is no toxicity from the cookware and on the other hand we have got the benefit of ingesting trace minerals so essential for the body from the claypot. The cooked rice also remains warm for a long time. These days I use only the claypot for cooking rice, and am finding it very easy and convenient. Do try out cooking the way your grandmom did, and enjoy the experience. And the food, of course!