17 April 2011

Rice, Rice, Rice

We've been trying some new types of rice this week.  I usually buy Elite rice from Kazakhstan because it's not too expensive and it's good for plov.  It's fine but nothing amazing.  There's also Batken rice (from the southern part of Kyrgyzstan).  I used that when we lived in Bishkek.  And we tried something labeled "Leder" but I can't figure out anything about that.  I'll ask more about it in the bazaar.  My favorite was the rice labeled "Pakistan." 

The trickiest part was guessing how to cook each time.  The Pakistani was easy, since I rightly guessed that cooking it like basmati would be a good idea.  I've cooked the Elite and Batken rice a lot in plov, so I knew what to do with that (except that I have a habit of putting too much water in with the Elite).  I still don't know what I should have done with the Leder.  Middle son and husband liked that type best though.  Out of the four types we tried, there wasn't any agreement on what was the best.  The little one liked the Batken and the oldest son liked the Elite (ironically, because he's always complaining that he doesn't like it when there aren't any other types of rice around).

After looking around I think the best guess for the type of Pakistani rice is parboiled Irri-6 or Irri-9.  It's a long-grain non-basmati white rice.  Unless there are basmati types that are shorter, this rice isn't long enough to be basmati, and it certainly doesn't lengthen when it cooks like basmati.  I tried it tonight in our Pakistani pilau (I usually use basmati for it, or the Elite rice when I'm here, or sometimes plain old American long grain) and I was in heaven.  The rice was perfect for the dish (makes sense) and so creamy and delicious.  It costs 60 som a kilo or 60 cents a pound (with the dollar at 47 som, that makes the conversion easy) which isn't a bad price, although it's expensive for Central Asia. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi there!
    Interesting hearing about your different kinds of rice! Thought you might like to know about another way to cook rice that keeps you from having to worry about the amount of water. Its the Pakistani/Indian/Afghan way to cook it:

    1. Soak your rice for a while - min. 1/2 hour up to 24 hours.
    2. Drain the rice and then put the rice in your pot and add new water -- as much as you want, really, but at least enough to cover the rice, with an inch of water above the rice.
    3. Bring the rice to boil without covering it and let it cook until a grain of rice is just soft enough to squish between your fingers, coming apart, but not so soft like baby food.
    4. Drain the water from the rice.
    5. Continue to cook your rice on the lowest heat you have, and shape it into a mound, sort of like a volcano. Put the handle part of your spoon in the middle and make a hole. Do that a few more times around the mound (this lets the steam out more easily). Put a cotton tea towel or other cloth around your lid and put the lid on the pot.
    6. Let your rice cook for a while (I often forget it and then when the rest of the meal is ready I remember that the rice is still cooking). Probably this would be at least 20 minutes.
    7. Your rice is ready and is always perfect for me! If you put oil in, in the Afghan manner (when you put the cloth on the lid), the bottom of the rice might get crispy. This is the special part for Afghans. If you don't put oil in, and you steam it for too long, the bottom might get burnt, but that's ok as long as you don't serve the burnt part.

    Anyways, this is the way I learnt to cook rice growing up. You might find it works well for you.
    Take care!