This article discusses how to cook plain, simple basmati rice. Known as chawal, this is an essential recipe to go with almost any Indian meal.
There are just a few things you must master when cooking rice.
The first is to use good quality rice. Good rice is often available from supermarkets – you should look for rice imported from India or Pakistan. Our article on basmati rice discusses selecting and storing rice.
The second is to wash and soak the rice before cooking. This makes a noticeable difference to the finished dish. You may feel that washing rice removes valuable nutrients. Nutritionists partly agree, but you are mostly removing pure starch.
Lastly, you must cook the rice gently. A rolling boil with frequent heavy stirring will break the rice down and you will use lose the texture. In this recipe, we use the absorption method which relies on gentle simmering to cook the rice.
Wash and soak your good quality basmati rice, then do as little as possible to cook it. You will be rewarded with fluffy rice that still has distinct grains.
- wide pan with lid
- 400 g basmati rice
- 750 ml water
- ½ tsp salt
- Rinse the rice in cold water and stir it with your hands thoroughly. Discard the water and repeat this step twice more to remove any excess starch. Note that after the third rinse that the water will not be clear but will be noticeably less cloudy than after the first rinse.
- Drain the rice, then place in a bowl and cover with luke-warm water. Soak for 30 minutes.
- Drain the rice and put it into the pan. Add the water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, uncovered.
- When it starts boiling, cover and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for fifteen minutes. Do not open the pot during this process.
- Once cooked, turn off the heat, then open the pot and quickly fluff the rice with a fork, Cover the pot with a tea-towel and replace the lid. Allow to stand for a further ten minutes before serving.
- 400g of uncooked basmati rice is approximately two cups.
- The ratio of water to rice, in volume, is 1½ cups of water to 1 cup of rice. This assumes you have soaked the rice before cooking.
- The cooking time will vary slightly depending on the age and quality of the rice you use.
- You must be confident with this dish and not open the pan to check progress, or the steam and heat will escape from the pan.
This feature is only available to subscribers.