Before electric rice cooker was introduced in our kitchen cooking rice was an art. Not many could boast about knowing the art. Even pro mothers could land up with bad pots once in a while. I remember how my mother would be on her toes once the rinsed rice was poured into the boiling water. She would keep stirring it and from time to time she would spoon out few grains and feel them between her fingers.
Once she got the right feel, which was when the grain was soften all around except a tiny bit in the centre, she would remove the pot from the oven and drain out the thick rice soup that was half the content of the pot. Then the pot was put back on the oven with low heat. I always wondered how my mother knew how much longer to wait after that because I mostly landed up with either uncooked or burnt rice.
That short story on the art of cooking rice can be a history lesson for young Bhutanese born after 90s. Because after electric rice cooker came cooking rice literally became a child’s play. All you have to do is rinse the rice, along with some water pour it in the cooker. Put your index finger to see if the water level is at the first line of your finger above the level of the rice. Close the cooker. Pull the light down to ‘cook’ and go to sleep till mother comes home to prepare the curry. Of course some can’t even do that much.
Besides the art and history of cooking rice there also seems to be solid science involved in it, which is gradually surfacing in the form of a disease. The deadly disease is called diabetes. It’s sugary but not at all a sweet disease it mess with. We understand that it is to do with excessive sugar in our blood that our pancreas can’t handle. But how did this happen?
Bhutan didn’t have this disease before, perhaps there were some cases that we were ignorant about but now it has become so common. Well, the answer could be in the rice cooker. A research in Singapore ( Story published in Strait Times) has shown that a plate of rice is as bad as two cans of sweetened soft drink. Ask yourself how many plates you eat in a day.
We Bhutanese always ate rice, so before you ask me why I blamed rice cooker here let me tell you that before rice cooker we boiled rice till it gave away whatever it contained and drained out the soup. Remember the history lesson. So the rice we were eating didn’t contain all the sugar it came with but now we are taking in every bit of sugar it contains because there is no draining out of soup.
We started using rice cookers in 90s and in the last two decades we must have forgotten how to cook rice without rice cooker but we have produced enough diabetic parents to relearn the art of cooking rice the old way.