First thing to do is to pat yourself on the back: this culinary gewgaw will change your (rice-eating) life. In Iran rice cookers are often given as a wedding present – this brand is famous for the longevity of its appliances, and it is not uncommon for them still to be working ten, twenty, thirty years on.
Before you begin to use your new Pars Ghazar gizmo, you will need several things:
• a two pin to three pin adaptor fitted with a 13amp fuse
• some rice: you can cook any sort of rice in your rice cooker, but basmati would be the rice of choice
• some butter, margarine or ghee: choose your poison
In the box you will find a power cable (affix to aforementioned adaptor plug), a measuring cup, a spongy thing (which is what you are meant to use to clean the liner: never use a scourer on it as you will scratch it and there will be no more lovely tahdik). You will also find some quaintly translated bits of paperwork: I’d bin this if I were you.
Wash your rice quickly (use a fine sieve for this). The idea is that you use one measure of rice per person (NB – this is a Persian measure, and they eat a lot of rice in Persia: half a measure might be nearer the mark for mere mortals), together with one measure of water per measure of rice, and one generously heaped teaspoon butter per measure of rice. Rice varies, not only between brands but from harvest to harvest, and so you may find you need to add a little more or less water. Add salt as required.
Just plug your rice cooker in, and set the colour-graded dial at the bottom to make the required colour of tahdik. Y’all know what tahdik is, right? Because that is surely why you bought this model… Tahdik (literally, ‘to the bottom’) is the sticky golden crust which forms at the bottom of the rice as it cooks (which you then turn out so that the crust is on top, just like a cake). If you don’t want a crust, just set the dial to the palest colour on the dial.
Your rice will take about twenty minutes to cook, thirty minutes if you are to get good tahkik. The cooker has a thermostat, so it will turn itself on and off safely and keep your rice warm: but be under no illusion – if you go out in the morning and leave it on, you will have very dry, dark rice when you get home.
If you are cooking fancy rice, you can add the raw ingredients (things like broad beans, or French beans, or raw garlic) with the rice at the beginning. Spices and herbs should, for the most part, be stirred through at the end, or you can turn your rice out, crack the crust and stripe your extra ingredients artfully across it. Liquid saffron, for example, is usually trickled on to the rice after it has been turned out.
A few other random hints/sticky golden crusty rules:
• brown rice takes a bit longer to cook: add a dash more water to it, and soak it beforehand
• if you are adding a liquid sauce to your rice (tinned tomatoes, or coconut milk, or Bolognese sauce), reduce the amount of water you use accordingly: it will otherwise turn out as katteh – soggy and overcooked
• only ever use wooden utensils when playing with your rice-bot: you will scratch the lining otherwise
• we sell spare non-stick liners, so if you do manage to scratch your lining, don’t panic Captain Mainwaring
• have fun :)