Make Rice and Liberate Yourself

April 05, 2013
By Holly Jennings

Using your finger to measure water


If you’ve got some rice, some water, and a saucepan you can cook rice. There’s no need for measuring cups and no need to measure the rice or water. All you need is your index finger.


I learned this freewheeling finger-in-the-pot method from Grace Young’s cookbook The Breath of a Wok, the current DCCC pick. To be honest, I’d come across the method previously in other Asian cookbooks, but it’s only now, after building my kitchen skills to their current level (due in part to this cookbook club) and with Young’s well-written and assuring book at my side, that I felt confident enough to leave my measuring cups in the cupboard. Once I took the leap of faith and made my first pot of rice this way, I felt liberated.


Besides being freeing, the method is also (more…)

Joloff Rice—Fancy Style

January 13, 2012
By Holly Jennings


The Indians have turmeric, the Europeans, beets, and the Africans, palm oil—an intensely colored oil extracted from the fruits of the oil palm that adds a shot of deep orange-red color to whatever food it touches, including this (more…)

Red, White, and Green: The Colors of the Mexican Flag and Table

April 26, 2011
By Holly Jennings

Shown above, clockwise from the top left, are bowls of Arroz a la Mexicana, or “Mexican Rice,” which, tinged red from tomatoes, could just as well be called “red rice,” Arroz Verde, or “Green Rice,” Arroz Blanco, or “White Rice,” and the Mexican flag held by a Day of the Dead figure, who would rather not be used as a flagpole so that he could get on with the business of drinking and smoking.


Plain Boiled Rice

December 20, 2010
By Holly Jennings

Yogurt Rice, one of several flavored rice recipes in ENTICE WITH SPICE that uses Plain Boiled Rice

I’ve made the recipe for Plain Boiled Rice from Entice with Spice several times, and am very happy with the results: I’ve gotten perfectly cooked Basmati rice every time with fluffy, individual grains. I’ve doubled the amount and have had equally good results.

Plain Boiled Rice (Chawval) goes with several dishes in Entice with Spice, especially the curries or any dish with a bit of a sauce, such as Chicken Tikka Masala. It is also used to make several flavored rice dishes in the book, such as the one shown above.

Serves 4 as a side dish 

Prep time: 5 minutes + 30 minutes soaking
Cook time: 15 minutes + 5 minutes to rest
Refrigerator life: 3 days Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method: Place the refrigerated or defrosted rice in a microwave, sprinkle a few drops of water on it and stir periodically. Or, place the rice in a saucepan, sprinkle a few drops of water on it and warm over medium-low heat, stirring periodically. 

 1 cup (180 g) uncooked white Basmati rice (or plain long-grained white rice) 
 1½ cups (375 ml) water 

  1.  Place the rice in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Carefully pour the soaking water out of the bowl. Rinse the rice three or four times by repeatedly filling the bowl with cold water and carefully draining off the water. It is okay if the water is not completely clear, but try to get it as clear as you can. Pour the rice into a sieve to drain.
  3. Place the drained rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. It is okay if the water gets frothy.
  4. Stir and reduce the heat to low. Cover the saucepan. Simmer undisturbed until the water is completely absorbed and you do not see any more water on the bottom of the saucepan if you insert a spoon through the rice, about 8 minutes. You might see dimples formed on the surface of the rice, which is a sign that the water is completely absorbed.
  5. Turn off the heat. Let rest, covered, for 5 minutes on the warm stove. Keep covered until ready to serve or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later. Before serving, gently fluff the rice with a fork.


  •  Making perfect rice can be tricky at first, as common problems are that the rice turns out mushy or it burns and sticks at the bottom of the pan. A good way to avoid burnt rice is to use a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  • If your rice tends to be mushy: after reducing the heat to low in Step 4, make sure the rice is simmering. If it’s just sitting in hot water, it will take a long time to cook, and it will become mushy and sticky. Increase the heat if needed so the rice is simmering. If your rice is still mushy, you may have overcooked it. As soon as you do not see any more water on the bottom of the saucepan if you insert a spoon through the rice, turn off the heat.
  • If you are new to making rice, for best results for all rice dishes in this chapter, I would first try making the amount in the recipe instead of doubling it. Once you get comfortable with making rice, then you can double the recipe. It is best to gently fluff the rice with a fork after it has cooled a bit so the rice grains do not break apart.

(Recipe ingredients and instructions reprinted with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing, Recipe introduction was written by Holly Jennings.)