The perfect basmati rice is fluffy, tender, and far from a complex technique to master. All it takes is a little care, patience, and the correct water-to-rice ratio.
What Is Basmati Rice?
Basmati Rice belongs to a group of rice varieties known as long-grain rice. Long-grain rice length measures approximately four times its width. Its appearance suits its grouping as basmati rice has long, slender white grains. It’s an aromatic rice, and in Hindi, “basmati” can be translated as “fragrant.” Perfect basmati rice has a nutty popcorn-like flavour with a lighter texture than most other rice varieties.
Basmati rice has a long association with Indian cuisines. It’s the rice you’ll often find alongside your curry and in the classic curry house side dish of rice pilau. This is because it’s widely cultivated on the Indian subcontinent, predominantly Pakistan, India, & Nepal. India produces the most basmati rice, closely followed by Pakistan.
3 Steps to Cooking Perfect Basmati Rice
Cooking the perfect basmati rice may seem daunting, but it’s pretty easy. There are 3 key steps to follow to achieve the ideal light, fluffy texture with grains that can be easily separated. The method described below is known as the absorption method.
- Wash the Rice- While basmati rice has less starch than plain white rice, the perfect basmati rice will need the excess starch clinging to the outside of the rice to be removed. Soak the rice in cold water for a few minutes. It’s important to stir the rice to separate the grains and remove any starch clinging to individual grains that have stuck together. Repeat this step, replacing the water at least 3 times.
- Water to Rice Ratio – While soaking the rice may take the most attention, the ratio of water to rice matters when trying to achieve the perfect basmati rice. It’s simple to remember, however. For every cup of basmati rice, add 2 cups of cold water. Or double the amount of water to rice. So, 100 grams of rice will require 200ml of water. Traditionally, Indian chefs would add enough water to the rice using their fingers to measure the amount required. Depending on taste, adding salt to the water enhances the rice’s flavour.
- Place the cold water and rice on the stove and boil; stir once, then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 12-14 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the water. Do not stir the rice more than once, as it may break down the cell wall and release starch, resulting in slightly stickier rice. Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat, keep covered, and allow to stand for a few minutes, typically 3-5. Finally, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Open Pan Cooking Method
Suppose you struggle to achieve the perfect basmati rice using the absorption method above; you can still enjoy delicious, fragrant basmati rice using the open pan cooking method. Here, you soak the rice as described above. However, the next step involves adding more water to the pan and boiling the rice until it’s cooked, like how you’d cook pasta. Then, remove the rice from the heat, drain, and cover. Allow the cooked rice to stand like above, then fluff to serve.
Perfect Basmati Rice
- 300 g Basmati Rice
- 600 ml Cold Water
- Salt to taste
- Wash the rice in three changes of cold water, then drain.
- Add the rice to a saucepan, cover with 600ml of water, and season to taste with salt. Give the rice a stir.
- Bring the rice to a boil, gently simmer, and cover the pan.
- Cook the rice for 12-14 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.
- Remove the rice from the heat, but keep it covered. Allow the rice to stand for 3-5 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork before serving.