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Rice cookers make preparing rice simple by eliminating the need to stir the pot or time the cooking. Like the stove-top method, the key factor in perfect rice is the water-to-rice ratio, which depends on the type of rice, not on the rice cooker instructions. It also is possible to cook other varieties besides plain white rice in a rice cooker, making it a versatile appliance. As always, follow the manufacturer's instructions for using the appliance, even when changing the proportions or ingredients.
The best thing about rice cookers is they can correctly cook any type of rice: short grain, long grain, brown rice and basmati all come out perfectly. The type of rice will determine both the amount of water and the pre-cooking treatment before placing rice in a rice cooker. If the rice might contain talc, stones or twigs, rinse it once or twice until the water runs clear. Some varieties of rice, such as basmati, might need to be soaked before cooking to shorten the cooking time, even when using a rice cooker.
Use filtered water for the best flavor when cooking rice in a rice cooker, especially if local water contains chemicals that might affect the taste. Carefully measure both rice and water using a liquid measuring cup for the water, not the little cup that came with the rice cooker. The measurements on the rice cooker pot are useful only when making the exact type of rice for which the cooker was designed — usually short-grain white rice. When cooking any other type of rice in a rice cooker, use the same ratio of water to rice as with the stove-top method. The rice cooker automatically cooks to the correct temperature, which is achieved when all the water has evaporated, and will take different amounts of time for each variety of rice.
After the cooker has finished, leave the rice untouched for about five minutes before opening the lid. If the rice is not cooked through, add a few spoonfuls of water, stir it and hit the "cook" button again. It should turn off fairly quickly after the additional water is cooked out. Then fluff the rice with the paddle and serve.
Substitute another liquid for all or part of the water if you want a different taste to the rice. Use broth, fruit juice or coconut milk to complement the main dish in the meal. For the best results, be sure keep the same ratio of total liquid to rice in a rice cooker.