If you presume this article about how to cook basmati rice will just be a guide to another unusual type of rice among countless others, you may want to think again.
Unlike the most well-known rice from South East Asian varieties, basmati rice provides you much less starch, while being much firmer in texture.
What is basmati rice?
Basmati is a nutty-flavored long grain rice that’s grown by using all traditional methods, and is an elemental part of Indian cuisine. The name “basmati” derives from the word “vasmati”, which, in Hindi, it means “fragrant” and “aromatic”.
Basmati is a low-starch rice, and is supposed to be firm and separated, rather than sticky or gooey like regular white rice. It’s gluten-free, super versatile and can be paired with almost every main dish in Indian households.
How do you make Indian basmati rice?
First, you transfer the rinsed rice to a boiling pot, add salt and pour water in. Next, you cover the pot tightly with a lid, just so the steam won’t escape and there will be no loss of water (because of evaporation). Hence, your basmati rice can steam perfectly, giving you beautiful and fluffy grains, instead of a mushy or crunchy dried out rice.
One small note: I have barely ever estimated the exact rice-to-water ratio. But as per my own experience, I suggest you measure it out like this: insert one finger to the pot and adjust the amount of water until the water level rises up to half of your index finger joint.
Do you need to soak basmati rice before cooking?
Yes, of course you should! And let me tell you why.
In short, there are two fundamental keys to a light and fluffy rice: rinse the rice well in clean water for a couple of minutes, and then soak it for 30 minutes.
When rinsing the rice, the water doesn’t need to be completely clear afterwards. The purpose of rinsing basmati rice is only to release excess starch on the surface of the grains, hence, prevent your rice from being too gummy and sticky after cooked.
Soaking is the next step you should do to make a fluffy rice of your dream. It will both reduce your cooking time, and help the grains expand to its best.
Yep, those are so far the principles of cooking basmati rice.
How to Cook Basmati Rice
- 2 cup basmati rice
- 3 cup boiling water
- Salt to taste
- Rinse: Use a strainer, rinse the rice under cold and clear running water for 2 minutes. You don’t need to rinse the rice until the water turns completely clear, it’s totally normal if the water’s still cloudy.
- Soak: Transfer the properly rinsed basmati rice into a large bowl, let it soak in cold water for at least half an hour. As mentioned above, this helps the grains expand and become fluffy later; plus, reduces the cooking time for you.
- Drain the rice after the presoak is done.
- Transfer the basmati rice to a boiling pot (that comes with a fitting lid). Add a few pinches of salt and pour water over. Swish it around so the salt is well-dissolved.
- Bring the pot to a simmer, over medium-high heat. Then, cover the pot with the lid tightly to prevent evaporation, so that the rice absorbs all the liquid and no steam will escape.
- When the water starts to boil once again, reduce the heat to low and let the rice cooked for another 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat but still keep the lid on. Let the rice sit still for 15 minutes to steam.
- Remove the lid and start to fluff the rice over (using a spatula or a big pair of chopsticks) before bringing to serve.