To soak or not to soak? Answering nine pressing questions about rice | It’s the rice that makes it

When most people think of comfort food, rice is one of the first dishes that comes to mind — it allows for a variety of one-pot meals, can magically bring dishes to life and is simply delicious. And what about the huge variety – from Basmati and Brown, to Jasmine, there is a type of rice to suit everyone and for every occasion. But, one way or another, quite a few of us still don’t make rice “right”. How many of us can’t successfully boil rice – and find ourselves staring enviously at someone else’s lovely fluffy cereal?

To learn more, and to get a feel for the science behind rice, we spoke to an expert at Tilda, which has made its name over the past 50 years as a premier supplier of all kinds of rice.

How do I cook rice – and how much water do I need?
Most of us boil rice on a regular basis, but it’s surprising how many people still find it difficult to get it right—they end up with chunks of rice instead of a bowl of fluffy cereal. In order to achieve the perfect consistency, it’s hard to go wrong if you follow one of two simple methods – the extra water method, which many of us are probably familiar with, or the sucking method. For the excess water method, all you need to do is measure the amount of rice you need into a saucepan and add plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat until simmering, usually about 10 to 12 minutes. Finally, strain it to remove excess water. With this method, you will need to stir the rice occasionally to ensure that the rice does not stick. When it’s time to cook, cover the rice for an additional minute or two to allow the rice grains to absorb excess water from the surface of the grains for the perfect texture, then serve.

If the soaking method tempts you, use a 2-to-1 ratio of water to rice—so, for example, 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice (this can vary slightly by grain, but it’s a good rule of thumb). Put it in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Cook with the lid on for 10 to 12 minutes. With this method, the rice doesn’t have to be stirred once it’s covered with a lid and you don’t need to strain it as all the water will be absorbed. Voila – rice to be proud of!

An added advantage of cooking rice in a pot is that it allows you the flexibility to add flavor and to follow different methods, from coating the grains with butter or oil before boiling (for dishes like Turkish sehriyeli pilav or Indian onion pilaf) to even searing it at the base for a little crunch (as used in paella). Spanish or Persian vibrato).

What about rice cookers and microwaves?
If the pot method isn’t for you, there are other options to make your life easier. Fans of electric rice cookers, for example, say they consistently deliver reliable results—as long as you follow instructions. However, the cooking time is about 30 minutes longer.

When time and convenience are everything, you have the option of a microwavable rice bowl. Tilda has a wide selection of more than 20 microwavable rice options that can make it from cupboard to plate in just over two minutes, with a wide range of flavors available from classic cereal to spicy firecracker and Caribbean rice and peas. If you’re in a hurry, this is hard to beat.

To wash or not to wash?
This is a must! Washing the rice can help cooked rice become less sticky, fluffy, and separate. Another advantage of washing is that after cooking, all the grains should look uniform on the plate.

To soak or not to soak?
The debate over whether rice should be soaked After, after You washed it. It simply depends on the type of rice you use. Tilda recommends soaking white basmati rice for at least 20 minutes. This hydrates the center of the kernel, allowing the beans to elongate and achieve a fluffy texture. For an extra long basmati, the rice should be soaked for 30 minutes to reach the optimum length and bring out its eye-catching and appetizing quality. For boiled basmati—known as sella basmati—soak for at least an hour. This is to ensure that the rice is maximally elongated once cooked.

As with many other things, the key to perfecting your favorite rice dish is preparation. Soaking the rice reduces cooking time by 20%, and a major benefit of the shorter cooking time is that it helps preserve the aromatic compounds that give basmati in particular its distinctive flavor and aroma.

No matter how you cook it, washing the rice first is a must. Photo: Getty Images

Why do cooking times vary?
It all depends on what kind of cereal you buy. Most white grains, including basmati, jasmine, and long grain, take about 10 minutes to cook. Brown rice takes longer, about 25 minutes, because the grain has an intact bran layer that makes it difficult for water to permeate.

It is important to realize that since rice is a natural crop, there may be a slight variation in cooking times depending on the year or types of crop. Always taste your rice while cooking it according to your taste preferences.

What does pure basmati mean?
Shoppers may have noticed that packages of vibrant blue basmati rice use the term “pure” to describe the contents. For a basmati to be “pure”, the number of non-basmati grains in the finished product must be less than 7%, according to the British code of practice for basmati labeling. This is why pure basmati stands apart from the standard rice you will find in the market. Tilda works with local experts to continually hone the way the rice is grown, before it is harvested and aged for up to 18 months to improve its texture and flavour. The rice is then milled and color-sorted – a process in which each grain is passed through a visual screen and any grains that aren’t quite white are discarded. Broken grain is also removed for a consistent looking plate, but never wasted; Instead, it’s made into “broken tilda basmati rice,” which is perfect for dishes like kheer (traditional Indian rice pudding).

Can I store leftover rice and reheat it?
The key to reheating leftover rice is making sure it is cooled and stored properly. This means letting the rice cool to room temperature, then placing it in an airtight container, preferably within an hour of cooking. You can store it for up to two days. When reheating, make sure it is fully steamed. Do not reheat more than once.

But if you didn’t have time to reheat last night’s rice, even cold rice is so versatile that it makes an ideal base for lunches.

Is rice gluten free?
All types of dry rice such as basmati or jasmine are naturally gluten-free. However, highly sensitive people may want to reassure themselves that their rice supply chain is avoiding cross contamination. Tilda takes additional measures to prevent cross-contamination within its supply chain and produces only gluten-free products.

Tilda has been the preferred choice of rice aficionados, from grandmothers to great chefs, sitting at the heart of dinner tables for over 50 years. The rice you choose can really elevate your plate, so Tilda ensures that their products are the best quality grains and ingredients. For more information about the full Tilda line and delicious recipe inspiration, visit tilda.com

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