As a rule rice is badly cooked in the average American home. For this reason last winter when there was a good deal of talk of rice as a substitute for potatoes, very little enthusiasm was felt on the subject, and indeed when one thinks of the tasteless, gummy mess which is so often put before the family, this lack of enthusiasm is not strange. However, rice properly prepared proves quite a formidable rival of the beloved potato, and there are endless ways of preparing it if one only knows how. In the first place, very few know how to cook just plain boiled rice. Many know that there is a way of preparing it so that when done it will be a fluffy mass of separate grains, but they have no idea how to go about making it look like this.

Pounding Rice.

Pounding Rice.

The process is very simple. Always use the unpolished rice. Rice with a creamy tinge is better than rice with a pearly white tinge, and the long grain is better than the short.

52. Plain Boiled Rice

For every cup of rice have about eight cups of water. Do not add the rice until the water is boiling briskly. Then throw in the rice, and give it an occasional stir until the water begins to boil again. After that it need not be stirred.

Cook until a grain feels soft when rubbed between the thumb and finger, then turn into a colander. Drain off the water and pour over the rice several cups of cold water. Drain that off, too, and place the rice where it can have moist heat for a while before serving. A good plan is just to leave it in the colander and place it over a pan of boiling water; or a steamer may be used for keeping it warm, or a double-boiler. By this method every grain is separate. Rice served with curry is always prepared in this way. It may be served in place of potatoes with meat, and may also be used as a basis for many inexpensive and attractive dishes, just as macaroni and spaghetti are.

There is one objection, however, to rice prepared in this way. A good deal of the nutritive value is lost down the sink-drain. In India this is not the case, for every ounce of rice water is there carefully saved. It is used in various ways. Usually it is fed to the babies and weaker children. Often it is given to ducks and fowl to fatten them, and sometimes it is put into the curry pot.

There is another method of preparing rice which is almost as satisfactory, and by which all the nutrition is retained. That is by cooking it in a regular rice boiler. Put just enough water over the rice to well cover it. After the water in the lower vessel has boiled a while, if the rice seems a little dry, add more water. Cook until the rice is soft, then turn the fire very low, so that the water in the lower vessel does not boil but retains its heat. Let stand for a while before serving, and the rice will be almost as fluffy and white as though blanched by the cold water process.