In an ideal world, I would cook wonderful, fresh, nutritious meals from scratch every evening from my family, using vegetables picked from my allotment and with the perfect balance of ingredients for a healthy lifestyle. Back in the real world, I have a full-time job, an energetic toddler and a love of relaxing so my culinary fantasies are just that – a fantasy!
In all seriousness, I do try and cook healthy meals as often as I can and, while I rarely resort to a ready meal or ovenchips and pizza, I do like to use the odd convenient pre-prepared item to help me out and speed up the cooking process.
I have seen the pouches of microwaveable pasta which, to me, are the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. However, somewhat hypocritically, I have absolutely no problem with using pouches of microwaveable rice! I think part of the reason for this is that while I can cook pasta with ease, I have always found rice a little trickier to get just right, and everyone has a different way of cooking it – people can't even decide whether to cover it or uncover it! So for me these little pouches are life savers. There are many different brands of rice available and I have no real brand loyalty – I tend to go for whatever is available or on offer. But I have been pretty pleased with Uncle Ben's so decided to write this review.
These upright pouches are 250g and vary in price – in Asda they are currently £1.68 each and in Budgens they are £1.77 or 3 for £4. I often see these on offer so do shop around. There are many different flavours of rice available including Chinese chicken, tomato and basil, garlic and herb and egg fried. I always opt for Basmati which, for me, is the only type of rice worth eating! Grown in India and Pakistan, it has a certain unmistakeable fragrance, and I wondered if that would be compromised by the microwave format of this product.
The pouches are made of a thick-ish plastic and are in the distinctive orange colours of Uncle Ben products. All you have to do is give the pouch a bit of a squish to loosen the grains (they are packed tightly in there), tear the top of the pouch an inch or two and pop it in the microwave (it stands up on its own) for two minutes. And that is really it! No confusion over covering, uncovering, simmering, stirring, and so on...
Ding! Rice is ready!
After the two minutes is up you can simply take this out of the microwave, fully open the top of the pouch and serve, the first thing to say is that of course the product is hot so beware of a hot pouch and steamy contents! When you first tip the rice from the pouch, some grains may well still be stuck together so you'll need a fork to gently separate them. I do find that the rice seems drier than 'freshly prepared' rice, and it does seem to stick together more than perfectly cooked basmati should. However I am always pleased and a bit surprised that none of the grains are ever hard or uncooked – the contents are always perfectly cooked and heated through.