Rice is one of those things that either you know how to cook, or you have problems with it: too sticky, underdone, slightly burned on the bottom, etc. Some cooks rely on a rice cooker, which can work, but a rice cooker doesn’t work that well with Basmati rice. So, we’ll show you the secret to fluffy Basmati rice.
Basmati rice is very fragile and you need to start with a high quality aged Basmati rice; we normally run over to the local oriental market (ours has Indian and Middle Eastern foods, too; you might have to find an Indian market) and pick up either a 10 or 20 pound bag of rice. We’ve used Royal and Tilda brands with great success and easily recommend them. They are more expensive than some of the other brands, but if you buy a 20 pound sack, it’s not so bad. (Royal brand was $20 for 20 pounds when we bought some a few weeks ago). Since rice doesn’t spoil, we have no problem getting a 20 pound bag; we’ll use it up in a year.
Procedure in detail:
Measure 1 cup of rice. Place into a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Ours is 1 1/2 quart which seems perfect for making a cup of dry rice. In these pictures we had to go with a slightly smaller pan. We were using the 1 1/2 quart for chocolate pudding.
Rinse the rice. Rinse the rice. Rinse the rice. Rinse the rice. Then rinse it again. We normally rinse the rice a minimum of five times. Sometimes seven times. Just fill the pan so it covers the rice by an inch, swish it around with your finger (it is clean, right?) and drain off as much cloudy water as you can without letting the rice spill out. It’s okay if some water remains while you’re rinsing. That’s one rinse. Then repeat, until the water is mostly clear.
Soak the rice. Add water to cover the rice by at least an inch of water. Let it sit for 30 minutes. We set the timer, so we don’t end up with rice mush if we forget.
Drain the rice. Drain it well, but be gentle. The rice grains are extremely fragile at this point, and, while you’ll break some no matter how careful you are, try to keep the breakage to a minimum. We don’t use a strainer for this reason; instead, we place our left hand along the edge of the pan to hold the rice in, while that water drains out. Yes, a few grains slip out, but that’s okay.
Dry the rice. Once the rice is drained, we let the rice dry in the same pan. Normally, after draining, the rice is all on one side of the pan; tilt the pan so any remaining water drains to the clear side of the pan. Add the cloves and a dash of cinnamon. The cloves and the cinnamon give the rice a nice light flavor. Nothing overpowering, just a little something. Feel free to omit either. If it’s more than a tablespoon or two of water, sop it up with a paper towel. Now let the rice dry at least 15 minutes, or all day. We rinse, soak, drain, and dry the rice early in the afternoon when we’re not real busy; then it’ll be ready to go at dinner time. Once you’re ready to cook the rice, move to the next step.
Add 1 1/3 cup water. Cooking Basmati rice with the soaking method doesn’t use the usual 2 parts water to 1 part rice. That would be way too much water.
Bring to a boil. Over high heat, bring the rice to a boil in the uncovered sauce pan.
Reduce heat. Once boiling, cover and lower the heat as low as it’ll go. For some gas stoves this is tricky to get the temperature low enough, but try.
Cook for 10 minutes. Don’t peek during these 10 minutes. Just cook the rice at a very low temperature. The steam is what cooks it, and you don’t want the steam to escape.
Fluff with a fork. Turn off the heat. Remove the cover and gently fluff the rice. Remove the cloves. Replace the lid and let the rice sit, undisturbed for about another 5 minutes to finish cooking.
Serve up perfect Basmati rice. While it seems like a lot of trouble to scratch up Basmati rice, it really is no more than rinse, soak, dry, and boil; we do it all the time, so 5 stars.