Perfect Basmati Rice

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01 Feb Perfect Basmati Rice

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Sometimes the simplest things stump me. For years, rice was my nemesis. Too sticky, too wet, too mushy. The alternative? Burnt. I couldn’t even make Uncle Ben’s turn out right. As with my bitter green tea fiasco, when faced with continued failure, I simply stopped trying.

Many of you are wondering why I didn’t just get a rice cooker. First, it was years ago when I was a very broke student. Second, see my policy on one-note kitchen gadgets.

Fortunately, I’m inquisitive. One of our local Indian restaurants made rice that smelled like heaven and tasted better. I grilled the owner. What kind of rice is this? Basmati. Where do you get it? Asian stores. How do you make it? He seemed amused by my intense curiosity and gave me the secret to perfect basmati rice. I pass this secret onto you.

The quantities aren’t important. The ratio is. For every 1 cup of rice, use 1 1/2 cups of water. That’s it. Well, almost. Frying releases more flavour and you have to keep your nose out of the pot, but otherwise, it’s dead simple and foolproof — providing you can do the math.

Perfect Basmati Rice
Printable recipe

Ingredients

  • oil
  • 1 part basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 parts water

Instructions

  1. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan that has a lid.
  2. Fry the rice for a few minutes in the oil over medium heat. The oil will initially turn the grains translucent. Fry until most of them turn opaque again. Do not brown the rice.
  3. Add the water and stir.
  4. Put the lid on the pot.
  5. Turn the heat to low, set the timer for 18 minutes and leave the room.
  6. Do not, repeat, do not lift the lid. Don’t peek to see how it’s coming along. Just leave it be.
  7. When the timer goes, remove the pot from the heat. Give the rice a quick stir and put the lid back on. Let it sit another 5 minutes.
  8. Fluff with a fork and serve with pride.

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16 Comments
  • jodi
    Posted at 21:24h, 03 February Reply

    Intriguing. I’ve never had problems cooking rice. Brown rice, white rice, wild rice, basmati, jasmine scented rice…the latter being something I’ve developed an infatuation with, especially when mixed with coconut milk, currants, green onions…
    Now i have a confession to make. I know how you are about small appliances, and I’m normally that way. However, we have one of those George Foreman grills with five different plates, and we use it a lot–and love it. (it was a gift). BUT, the big bad new delight in my kitchen is the black, shiny, Kitchenaid artisan mixer. I’ve wanted one for ages. My sister got one for her birthday (at my suggestion to her husband)…and he probably paid four hundred bucks plus for it. I paid zip. Nada. Got it by cashing in my credit union choice rewards points. Made my fabulous flourless chocolate cake with it the other night…perfection in a pan! I haven’t played with it a lot yet, because I’ve been busy with deadlines, but I can now turf the obnoxious portable mixer that I’ve had for several years that has been a headache. for so long.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 21:41h, 03 February Reply

    I believe my rice problem was two-fold. One: I bought cheap, starchy student-priced rice. Two: I keep lifting the lid to see how it was coming, thus releasing the steam. The combination was truly inedible. Since I learned about basmati, I’ve rarely had a problem. That said, I messed up a batch last week by doubling the water. That’s what I get for multi-tasking.

    I had a Hamilton grill and hated it. Maybe George has perfected the indoor grill, but I’m leery of them. My philosophy is, if you use it then it’s not a waste of money or space at almost any price. If you don’t use it, then even free is too expensive (in kitchen real estate terms).

    I purchased a Jenair standing mixer in a moment of weakness and blogged about it.
    http://christie-corner.blogspot.com/2006/11/eating-crow.html

    It comes out once a year and earns its keep with the Christmas baking blitz. My kitchen’s just too small for it to be a permanent counter fixture and I’m too scrawny to haul it in and out of the basement (no cupboard space big enough upstairs). I’m jealous of your mixer, but even more so of your space. Cook something decadent for me!

  • jamEs
    Posted at 12:21h, 07 February Reply

    I know anything I’ve read about Basmati rice requires you to rinse it first. I typically put it in a strainer and strain it off twice until the water draining off becomes clear. I’m going to try your method tonight and see where it gets me.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 12:41h, 07 February Reply

    Confession time, James. I never wash my rice. I know, I know. I should. But I never do and it comes out fine using the method described in the post.

    Let me know how the method works for you.

  • Resprung
    Posted at 14:35h, 19 July Reply

    Just tried it — works a charm. Thanks a lot! :-)

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 14:43h, 19 July Reply

    Resprung, I'm so glad it worked for you. Thanks for taking the time to post your results!

    In case anyone's interested, there are more methods mentioned in the comments section of another rice post. An even simpler method involves oven cooking.

    http://christie-corner.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-to-cook-rice-reader-question.html

  • Alli
    Posted at 20:13h, 18 May Reply

    Bless you and this tip! I just threw out one batch of mushy basmati and found your site for te second try… You saved dinner! ; )

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:52h, 20 May Reply

      I’m so glad this post helped. I used to produce mushy or burned rice until I used this method. Now, it’s my go-to technique. Thanks for taking the time to share your positive experience!

  • Max
    Posted at 20:10h, 06 April Reply

    I tried lots of basmati rice recipes but none of them would work for some reason. It would end up mushy or burnt. Yours is literally the only recipe that ever worked for me, props

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:18h, 07 April Reply

      Oh, I feel your pain! This is the only way I can make rice, so it means a lot to know it works for another frustrated would-be rice maker. Thanks so much for letting me know! You made my evening!

  • Riz
    Posted at 15:06h, 02 January Reply

    HELLLLLLL YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! My friggin basmati rice isn’t a fucking stunt double for oatmeal anymore. Redemption at last!!!!!! You rock.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:10h, 04 January Reply

      This made me laugh. Yes, I’ve had the oatmeal stunt double issue too. This is the only way I can make rice. Glad the method worked for you! Keep cooking!

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    Posted at 05:21h, 02 February Reply

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  • zunikhan
    Posted at 05:20h, 03 February Reply

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  • Iris
    Posted at 10:01h, 09 March Reply

    Do you rinse and/or soak the rice beforehand as well? I’ve tried like a bazillion recipes and after two years of trying to get the perfect Basmati, I’m still not there. Giving yours a go today, wish me luck 😀

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:56h, 09 March Reply

      Thanks for your question. I don’t rinse the rice and I definitely don’t soak it. Toasting the rice before adding the water is the ONLY way I can get nice fluffy rice. Just keep the lid closed (no peeking!) and keep the ratio of rice to water at 1: 1.5 NOT the 1:2 ratio that other rice’s require. Good luck and please let me know if this turns out for you.

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