Now that we know the nitty-gritties of an electric rice cooker, it’s essential that we pay attention to some of the factors that you must consider before purchasing one. A fair idea about your requirements and specifications of the appliance will help you choose the most appropriate one for yourself. So, without much ado, let’s have a look at all the pointers.
The Capacity of the Rice Cooker
The capacity of the rice cooker is undoubtedly the most crucial factor that makes all the difference in your cooking. It should be appropriate for all your needs and requirements. The number of members in your family and the eating or consumption habits determine the suitable capacity for your rice cooker.
The more the number of members in your family, the higher will be the capacity of the rice cooker. Same is true for consumption habits as well. Generally, rice cookers come with capacity ranging from one to six litres. For example, a family comprising four to five members with average rice consumption can go for the capacity of 3-4 litres.
In the same way, if your consumption is less, you can opt for a smaller capacity rice cooker. For example, for a single person or for travelling, you can go for compact cookers with a capacity of one litre only. Also, remember that the quantity of raw rice that can be accommodated would be less than the actual capacity as water also needs to be added. Therefore, you must keep this consideration in mind as well before purchasing one for yourself.
The Material of the Inner Pot
There are different types of material used in the making of the inner vessel of an electric rice cooker. Though all these materials are good for cooking rice, the selection majorly depends on what results you are looking for. For example, if cleaning is what you are concerned about. In that case, non-stick inner pots are recommended. Let’s have a look at the different materials used.
It goes without saying that the stainless steel pots will enhance the durability of your electric rice cooker. Also, their shiny finish stays intact for a long time, giving them a new-like appearance for years. However, these will not conduct heat as good as the aluminium pots and are also more costly than the other materials.
If you are looking for a lightweight rice cooker, you must look for the ones having an aluminium inner vessel. Aluminium itself is a lightweight metal that doesn’t add must to the weight of the appliance. Also, these are some of the best conductors of heat, thereby heating the utensil quickly to cook rice.
Though aluminium vessels are less expensive than other materials, these are not as durable, especially when compared to the stainless steel pots. Also, these have a tendency to bend or lose shape when too much pressure is applied on them. Therefore, you must consider these drawbacks when going for aluminium pots.
Nowadays, anodized aluminium coated inner vessels are also being used. These offer great heating and don’t allow the rice to stick to the surface as well. Also, these prevent aluminium from leaching into the food being cooked which normal aluminium vessels lack. They are a bit expensive but are worth investing in.
As we have said earlier, for cleaning purposes, non-stick pans are the best choice. These don’t allow the rice particles to stick to the pan surface, thereby cleaning the rice cooker becomes effortless. However, the coating on the non-stick cookware can wear off over time.
And, once it starts to scrape off, these pans are rendered useless and need to be replaced. It mostly happens when metal spoons or spatulas are used rigorously to scoop or move the rice inside the cooker. To avoid this you should opt for a plastic spatula and move it gently. This will prolong the lifespan of your non-stick inner pot.
You must always check the energy efficiency of any electric rice cooker. It will be determined by the power it consumes. However, an electric rice cooker being a small device generally consumes less power as compared to bigger appliances like refrigerator, air conditioner, or even a microwave.
Generally, a rice cooker will consume anywhere between 300 to 1100 watts of electricity. More precisely, a typical rice cooker can consume around 400 to 700 watts of electricity when in the cooking mode. The same will consume only 30 to 45 watts when in the warm mode.
However, you must keep in mind that the power consumption of your rice cooker will largely depend on its size and model. Along with these two factors, other things that influence energy consumption include the frequency of its usage and the amount of time it stays in the warm mode or completely shuts down. Therefore, we recommend shutting off the device when not in use to save electricity.
Automatic Shut Off Feature
You must always opt for an electric rice cooker that comes equipped with an automatic shut off feature. The idea behind this feature is to determine whether the rice has been cooked properly or not. It does this with the help of specialised sensors that are designed to perform the above function.
Once these sensors detect that the rice is cooked, they automatically shut off the device and no further cooking takes place. This feature prevents overcooking and burning of rice. However, you must still wait for at least ten to fifteen minutes to allow the steam to release before serving the rice.
Different Modes and Settings
What makes the functioning of electric rice cookers more convenient and versatile is the addition of several different modes and settings. This is what you should look for in your cooker as well. Let’s discuss some of the settings below.
Automatic Keep Warm Setting
The automatic keep warm setting does away with the need of reheating the cooked rice again and again. This is because it allows the food inside the cooker to stay warm for up to twelve hours. So, once the rice is cooked, this keep warm setting gets activated automatically. In this way, the food is kept warm and fresh for a long time, without its aroma escaping from the pot.
Quick Cook Setting
As the name suggests, the quick cook setting is designed to cook the food quickly. Therefore, it comes in handy when you are running out of time. You just have to activate this setting which will signal the cooker to produce more heat and spread it evenly throughout the cooker. This will result in food getting cooked early, without sacrificing on the taste front.
Specific Cooking Modes
There are other specific cooking modes in an electric rice cooker that are a blessing for someone who loves to eat. These allow you to prepare several dishes like biryani, pulao, etc., with a single touch of the button. These are automated modes with pre-set menus for certain dishes which take care of the specific cooking process for specific dishes.
Delay Start Feature
The delay start feature is yet another convenience feature added to some advanced electric rice cookers. It is useful when you have to prepare food at some other time when you won’t be available for cooking. You can simply activate this function for the specified time when you have to cook, it will automatically cook for you at that time. Also, it shows how much time is left until your food gets prepared.
The very purpose of purchasing an electric rice cooker is to have evenly cooked rice. Your rice must have an even consistency and fluffy texture throughout the cooker. When this is not the case, the rice might end up being soggy, undercooked, mushy, or even burnt. Therefore, you must always check the reviews and performance history of the particular model that you are going to purchase.
Rice Cooker Accessories
Most rice cookers come with additional accessories that make usage more convenient. Some of the add-ons that you must always look out for include:
It is often seen that the capacity of an electric rice cooker is determined by a measuring cup. It is used to measure the quantity of raw rice and water accurately so that the rice is cooked perfectly. Different brands offer different sizes of measuring cups and are usually given free with the cooker.
Rice spatula is nothing but a serving utensil that is often provided by the brand when you buy an electric rice cooker. It can be used to turn, move, or serve rice without breaking the cooked grain. Most rice cookers come with a plastic spatula, which makes scooping out the rice easy and the non-stick coating on the pot is also not damaged.
Some brands even offer steaming trays with the electric rice cooker. These are useful for steaming vegetables while cooking rice. Though these models can cost you more, they are worth buying as they make cooking more flexible and versatile.
As the name suggests, rice cloth is a piece of cloth that is used to hold the rice together inside the cooker while it cooks. It is usually made up of nylon or polyester material. It can be reused several times and makes cleaning effortless as it doesn’t allow the rice to stick to the pot. Also, it allows the water to drain that keeps rice fluffed up, giving it a good texture.
Easy and Convenient Usage
There is no point in purchasing an electric rice cooker if it doesn’t make your daily cooking more convenient. Some of the convenience features that you can look out for include:
- Large handles that offer a secure grip to hold the heavy pot.
- A non-stick bowl that makes cleaning effortless.
- Single-touch controls that make usage pretty straightforward.
- If the device is equipped with other functions as well, marked controls would make usage extremely easy.
- A detachable power cord is such a boon when it comes to rice cookers. With this you can easily use the cooker as a serving bowl itself, thereby doing away with extra dishes or dragging the device while serving. It also makes storage pretty convenient. However, you must make sure that the power cord is of high-quality material for safe usage.
- Generally, a see-through lid type is more convenient to have as it helps you monitor the process even without opening the lid.
Cleaning and Maintenance
You should always opt for a rice cooker that is easy to clean and maintain. For this reason, electric cookers with steel pots are avoided as rice sticks to them, which makes cleaning a hectic chore. For easy cleaning, you should look for inner pots with a non-stick coating.
As the name suggests, non-stick pans wouldn’t allow rice to stick to the surface. You can simply wash it with some soap and a sponge. Other high-end models can include anodized aluminium or Teflon coated pots, which further reduces your cleaning and maintenance efforts.
However, you must move your spatula gently if you are using non-stick or Teflon coated inner bowls as these coatings are prone to scrapping, which reduces their lifespan.
Though electric rice cookers are all about performance, their design should not be ignored either. You should opt for the model that looks aesthetically pleasing and goes with your kitchen interiors. Apart from the looks, you must also check for certain essential features in the making of your device.
A cook and serve design of the rice cooker is probably the best model that you can invest in. It even reduces the number of utensils to clean.All you have to do is cook the food, carry the cooker anywhere, and simply serve.
A well-insulated outer body of the appliance is a must-have as this will prevent burns and keep the exteriors cool, which in turn, make it easy for you to hold the cooker. Also, a cool-touch handle is another addition that you must look for. These are heat-resistant, which makes them extremely safe.
Also, these offer a firm and secure grip, which comes in handy while holding the heavy cooker. The design must also be easy to clean and maintain, which saves you from the hassles of high maintenance. Therefore, you should look for all such features while purchasing one.
When buying electrical devices, one should always look at the safety features. This is essential for electric rice cookers as well. As we have discussed above, well-insulated outer body and a cool-touch handle are two design features that keep you safe by preventing burns.
In the same way, there are some other in-built safety features that you can look for. These include overpressure self-release, temperature limit protection, pressure limit protection, micro switch for open and close, over-current protection, etc.
Most of these are found in high-end models.But, these are worth investing in. Preethi and Usha are two brands that offer maximum safety options. So you can check these brands if safety is your primary concern.
A high-quality brand plays a huge role in the efficiency of a device, especially electronic appliances. You must always opt for a well-known brand with a history of impeccable performance. These are more trusted, and offer you some guarantee period and efficient after sales service which is often lacking in lesser-known brands. We suggest opting for brands like Bajaj, Prestige, AGARO, Panasonic, or Kent for best performance.
Most electric rice cookers often fall in the price range of 1000 to 3000 rupees. However, those with Teflon coating can cost you a little more than the standard ones. We suggest going for the one that suits your budget and meets all your requirements.
Warranty and After Sales Service
Like other electrical appliances, rice cookers are also purchased with a view to use them for a long time. This is where warranty and after sales service becomes crucial. Usually, companies provide at least one or two-year warranty for most rice cookers.
Some brands even offer extended warranty that is beneficial after the initial guarantee period is over. This is usually paid and can be renewed anytime. Efficient after sales service ensures that any issue in the product can be taken care of promptly. Therefore, you must always consider these two factors before purchasing a rice cooker.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Electric Rice Cooker
Even though the operation of an electric rice cooker is pretty straightforward, people still don’t know how to get the best out of their electric cooker. This results in mushy or undercooked rice, which makes the entire process futile. Therefore, for the best results, you must pay attention to some of the tips shared below.
Avoid Using Metal Cookware to Serve Rice
No, your metal spatula or serving spoon will not harm the rice but it will surely damage the inner pot of your rice cooker. This is because the inside of the pot is usually made of a non-stick material which can be easily scratched or scraped off due to metal spoons. Therefore, you must opt for a plastic spatula or other utensils that are especially designed for non-stick pans. This simple switch will help you increase the lifespan of your electric cooker.
Always Clean the Pot while Making Multiple Batches of Rice
When you are cooking multiple batches of rice, cleaning the pot in between each session becomes important. A dishwasher, in such a case helps a lot. But, if you don’t have that, you can follow this easy tip.
Once you do away with the large chunks of leftover rice, you must replace the inner pot and allow the cooker to stay in the warming mode with an open lid. By doing this, you will ensure that even the smallest quantity of leftover rice in the cooker is dried out, which can be simply removed by hand. Once you are through this step, you can easily wash the pan and get ready for the next batch of cooking.
However, you can totally avoid the entire process mentioned above if you use a rice cloth. This simple nylon or polyester cloth doesn’t allow the rice to stick to the pan and offers excellent water drainage, thereby making cleaning extremely easy. This way you can cook multiple batches of rice in no time.
Do Not Forget to Wash the Rice Before Cooking
Before you start cooking your rice in the rice cooker, make sure that the rice is washed or rinsed thoroughly. This is an age old practice that not only removes dirt or pesticides from the white grain but also gives it an even texture. It also ensures that lesser foam is created inside the cooker, thereby preventing it to bubble over.
Take Care of the Quantity of Rice and Water
Cooking rice is mostly about correct rice to water ratio. This makes the accurate measurement of the quantity of rice and water extremely crucial. So, if you are cooking white rice, you must take 1.5-2 cups of water for every cup of raw white rice. This ratio goes up while cooking brown rice as brown rice has more fibre that takes more time to cook. Therefore, for brown rice, you must take around 2.5 cups of water for every cup of raw brown rice.
Do Not Unnecessarily Peek into the Rice Cooker
This habit of peeking into the rice cooker while cooking rice is more common when you use a steel lid, which is not see-through. But, what you don’t know is that this unnecessary peeking actually lets the water vapour or steam to escape, which eventually dries out the rice. You must totally avoid doing this. Therefore, we suggest opting for a see-through lid so that you can keep a check on rice, without opening the lid every now and then.
Season Your Rice
Seasoning your rice basically means to add some spices or ingredients to enhance the flavour of your rice. So, do not shy away from adding some bay leaves or cardamom pods to the rice cooker. This simple addition will make your rice more flavourful, rich, and aromatic. You can also add salt, ghee butter, or oil to the rice as per your preference.
Allow the Rice to Rest After Cooking
We can’t stress enough on the importance of this point. One mistake that people make while using electric rice cookers is to not allow the rice to rest for at least five to ten minutes after cooking. People do so because they think that the rice cooker itself shuts off and switches to the warming mode, which is true to some extent.
The trick here is that even though the cooker shuts off, it does not imply that the rice is also completely done and ready to serve. Therefore, waiting for a few minutes after the cooker shuts down will allow the rice to cook evenly and get rid of any extra moisture. This also improves the texture and the taste of rice.