అట్టేసర అన్నము

అట్టేసర అన్నము  – attesara annam

Did you know that the majority of villagers in India cooking rice drain it before serving? They cook 1 cup of rice with not 2 but 4-5 cups water. Bring to a boil and eventually remove from the stove.

1:2 or 1:2.5 (for old rice) ratio is very much a gas-stove practice, easy for those who can turn a stove down to simmer.  Or who use a pressure cooker.  But apart from practical considerations, over generations people have grown accustomed to vArchina annamu, or strained rice. Ganji, or starch, is a breakfast drink. Strained rice is soggier than the fluffy stuff known as అట్టేసర అన్నము or attesara annam.

The first time we made rice in the haybox to demonstrate in Appalagraharamu village, the women tasted it and said it was like ‘biriyani annamu.” No one drains biriyani because the seasonings and vegetables are cooked right along with the rice. Biriyani is a delicacy not usually made in villages, maybe because the fire stoves cannot handle this precision cooking (even 5 minutes late and the dish is burnt).

The haybox, however, turns out perfect fluffy “jasmine-like” rice (మల్లెపూవు లాంటి అన్నము) without any risk of burning, whether you remove the rice 40 minutes or 8 hours later. Put the rice in the morning, return for lunch to piping hot rice. Take the box with you to work, let it cook en route. Do other work while the rice cooks, you dont have to be around to turn it off! With such a great sales pitch, how could we go wrong? Plus this is more nutritious and saves energy! Saves time, too!

Some village households have taken readily to the haybox and were actually excited about having అట్టేసర అన్నము  without needing to have a gas stove or pressure cooker. And it is catching on. It cooks with <50% of the fuel and pays for itself in a few months.

But many families are reluctant to change the way they cook rice. Some report that they do not like అట్టేసర అన్నము, or fear it is not healthy. “వేడి చేస్తుంది” they add. [It heats the body.]

Imagine someone told you they had a better way to make pasta. Rather than drowning the stuff in water, pour just enough so that it is fully absorbed. Would you do it?


Revisiting Barber’s Colony

We visited the barber’s colony again yesterday. They greeted us with puzzled looks. Fortunately we had something new to show them – the haybox cooker. So we interspersed questions about the anganwadi program with talk of the wonders of the haybox.

But the facts were clear, in spite of sending a letter to the collector 6 weeks ago, nothing had changed for them. They had received nothing from the anganwadi. Continue reading