I have been cooking rice the wrong way my entire adult life. I mean, I knew I was doing it wrong because the results were not good. My rice would be tender but not fluffy. It was always just a little too mushy, sticky and heavy. I always thought that because rice wasn’t usually the star of the show, it didn’t really matter how good it was.
Before I met my husband, I cooked rice in a pot. I used a 1:2 ratio of rice to water, threw in a pat of butter, and simmered for what seemed like quite a long time. Mr. P likes rice so much that he bought a rice cooker. With the rice cooker, we put in one cup of rice, two cups of water, close the lid and push the button. About 35 minutes later, we have cooked rice. Sticky, clumpy, not at all fluffy rice.
Then, I discovered a main dish recipe recently from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi, that puts rice front and center. At first, I was skeptical of Ottolenghi’s technique for cooking the basmati rice because clearly, I know more than a world-renowned chef, restaurateur and cookbook author. But, I decided to give it a go. That perfect basmati rice was a revelation. Each grain was perfectly cooked but still firm, defined, and not at all sticky.
We eat a fair amount of basmati rice in our house. It’s the foundation for many bean dishes, stir fries and curries. The technique I adapted from Jerusalem has turned my rice into more than just an afterthought. Wouldn’t you like to know how it’s done?
Perfect Basmati Rice (Yields about 3 cups)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Rounded 1 cup white basmati rice
Scant 1 1/2 cups boiling water
In a medium pot or saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the dry rice, and stir to coat for about 1 minute, just to get the rice hot. Then, add your boiling water very carefully. It will boil vigorously once it hits the pan. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Then, remove the lid, cover the pan quickly with a clean and dry dishtowel, replace the lid on top of it, off the heat and simply let the rice steam for another 10 minutes. That’s it! You don’t even have to stir it.
See, your first thought was probably, “That’s not enough water! The rice will never get cooked through. I’ll have to add more at the end and hope for the best.” But, just try it and see. I think the keys to the success of this technique are that the rice is already warm, the boiling water starts the cooking process quickly, and there’s not so much water that the rice gets mushy. Once the rice is cooked, you can add a little butter and salt if you prefer or just use it in any recipe that needs fluffy, perfect basmati rice.