To cook basmati rice in the Zojirushi (fuzzy-logic) rice cooker – that is the question! Is it possible to make this rice in the cooker and obtain the quality that one gets from cooking it using a traditional method?
Basmati rice is a delicious rice enjoyed by many cultures. It has a mildly pop-corny flavor and a wonderful texture. In some countries, basmati rice is cooked with a delicious bottom crust created by steaming the cooked rice on a base of butter or buttered sliced potatoes. In other countries, it is cooked as biryani, or in many pilaf-style dishes. Basmati rice is enjoyed plain as well. Traditionally, this rice is soaked before cooking and the grains of rice come out separate and elongated from the soaking/cooking. In some countries, after the initial boiling of the rice, after the cooking water has been absorbed, a cotton cloth is placed over the rice and the top placed on the pot. The cloth absorbs the last vestiges of steam from the rice, and leads to even more separate grains. That’s what happens in a traditional way….now for what happens with a rice cooker.
We have successfully cooked delicious basmati rice in the Zojirushi, but read on. We have tried just putting the rice in the cooker and treating it like any other white rice, but if you do that you will not get the double-long, fluffy but slightly chewy grains that make basmati rice one of the world’s premier foods. To obtain the finest quality finished product, you should soak the rice in salted water and not use the water measuring lines on the cooker bowl – instead you need to use the measuring cup – 2 measures of water per measure of rice.
Use the clear measuring cup that is provided with the cooker. We say that to make sure that nobody exceeds the capacity of the rice cooker by using a larger measuring cup.
Do not add lentils to the rice for traditional dishes that require lentils. You want to avoid adding anything during cooking that will clog up the steam vents!
First: Measure the rice using the clear cup. Wash the rice. Soak the rice in a bowl for one half hour, by adding twice as many measuring cups of cold water to the washed basmati rice, and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every measure of rice.
Then, transfer the rice and all the soaking liquid to the rice cooker and use the regular white rice setting to cook the rice. The Zojirushi (fuzzy-logic) rice cooker will add another soaking cycle to the cooking time. It will take nearly an hour to cook. When it is done, fluff it up with a fork, without scratching your cooker bowl, and let it sit in the cooker for another 15 minutes. The basmati rice cooked this way, in the Zojirushi (fuzzy-logic) rice cooker, will have separate grains, not stuck together. It takes a long time, but, if you were using a traditional method to cook the rice, whether Iranian (Persian), Indian or other method, there would be a step where the rice steamed after the initial cooking – it just takes longer to cook this type of rice in general!
If you prefer the rice a little bit more “al dente,” or you don’t have as much time, then just put the washed basmati rice and water (1 measure of rice, 2 measures of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt per measure of rice) in the cooker and change the cooking setting to “harder” using the menu button. Push cook. This rice will be ready to eat when the rice cooker starts singing. The grains will have a slightly greater resistance to the bite – our favorite way to eat this rice.
We fried some finely grated garlic in ghee (browned clarified butter), then dribbled this mixture on the cooked basmati rice and fluffed it around with a bamboo rice paddle from Japan. (The Zojirushi comes with a plastic paddle, but we are ashamed to say that we had previously melted that paddle and several other plastic paddles during interrupted cooking adventures…) Anyway, adding a flavored butter sauce was a winning strategy!
Having cooked basmati the traditional Persian way, where it is soaked and then boiled and strained, and then steamed on top of a butter and yogurt mixture, and having cooked it in a couple of different traditional Indian ways, we would say that this method (adding salt to the water and using the rice measuring cup to measure the water,) is acceptable for everyday cooking of basmati rice using a Zojirushi rice cooker.5