Egypt Independent

Rice preparation made easy

Anyone who has randomly decided to start cooking at some point in life is aware of the difficulties associated with preparing rice. Probably the simplest choice for any non-cooker out there, rice is actually one of the most difficult things to learn how to make.

If your rice/water/heat/time combination isn’t perfect, your rice can do a number of things: it can become sticky and squishy; burn; remain hard (as if it was never cooked); be perfect on top and squishy in the middle;or  burn a little and make the entire pot taste of burnt rice.

After battling on and off with rice for about a year and a half (since I began cooking), I have come to master two kinds of rice that must be named by brand, because, honestly, different brands of rice react differently–even if they’re technically the same kind of rice.

So, in an effort to help any struggling rice cooks out there–any foodies who might otherwise be able to make a fabulous chicken a la menthe or a killer beef balsamic but are plagued by the idea of cooking the rice to go with it–here are two options: Egyptian rice (El-Doha) and basmati rice (Nahrain).

Egyptian Rice

Things you will need:
1 shayata (a metal circle with a wooden handle that covers the flame to dissapate the heat)
1 slightly heavy bottomed pot with a lid and steam-hole (preferably a transparent lid so you aren’t tempted to take the lid off to see the rice and potentially ruin it)

1 cup El-Doha white short-grain rice (the regular, everyday Egyptian rice)
2 handfuls vermicelli (shaareya)
2 tablespoons butter
a sprinkle of salt
2 cups water

1. Put 1 tablespoon butter and two handfuls vermicelli into the pot and fry them until the vermicelli browns to your liking. It is advisable to move the vermicelli and butter around with a wooden spatula while it fries so that it colors itself evenly.
2. Once the vermicelli is ready, toss in the cup of rice and the other tablespoon of butter.
3. Sprinkle all with salt and stir about so that the vermicelli is mixed in with the rice and the butter is evenly distributed.
4. Pour in two cups water and allow them to heat up to almost a boil (still uncovered at this point).
5. Light up the smallest flame on your stove and set it to its lowest possible setting.
6. Cover the flame with the shayata.
7. Put the lid on the rice pot and move your pot to the lower flame, placing it on the shayata.
8. Set your timer for 30 minutes and walk away from the pot.
9. Come back and check the status of the rice by smelling the steam coming out of the steam-hole–but don’t take the lid off.
10. When 30 minutes are up, turn off the heat, take off the lid and taste the rice. If it’s still very hard, add another 1/4 cup of water and turn on the heat on low again. Leave for 10 minutes.

Basmati Rice

Things you will need:
1 shayata
1 slightly heavy bottomed pot with a lid and a steam-hole

1 cup Nahrain golden basmati rice
2 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon butter (optional)
1 cube chicken stock (optional) or a sprinkle of salt

1. Pour 2 1/4 cups water into the pot and heat to a boil.
2. Add in whatever you have chosen from the optional items–salt, chicken stock, butter or oil–and make sure the chicken stock is no longer in cube form by crushing it with wooden spatula.
3. Add in 1 cup basmati rice (this combination works for Nahrain, but not for El-Doha basmati)
4. Allow water to boil again while you set up your smallest flame, on low, with the shayata on top.
5. Move the pot to the low flame and set the timer for 30 minutes.
6. Walk away from the rice and come back in 30 minutes to turn off the flame.
7. Open the pot, move the rice around with a fork to give it some air, and… enjoy!

Tags recipes rice