Photo courtesy of Lemanieh on iStockphoto.com

How I Cook Basmati Rice

And why I don’t waste a gallon of water rinsing it first.

Clean water is a scarce commodity and not to be wasted, so it always bothered me that recipes for cooking basmati rice involved rinsing it multiple times until the water ran clear.

Imagine how much water would be wasted if every time someone in the world cooked rice they rinsed it 5 times?

I understand in certain circumstances it may be necessary to remove impurities and that for some cultures rice is sacred and must be treated as their customs dictate, but for barbaric westerners like myself I suspect that few can discern any meaningful difference between the two methods. Sure it is a bit fluffier but not really a justification for pouring a gallon of clean water down the drain.

As we all must start to cook more for ourselves we need methods and recipes that fit within the confines of our busy lives and the environment.

So, it was a great relief to finally stumble upon a chef who was also willing to omit this stage of the preparation. In her awesome book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat proclaims:

“Basmati and jasmine rices are traditionally both rinsed multiple times until the water runs clear, but for a typical weeknight dinner, I don’t usually bother.”

Finally some sense.

Her advice on cooking rice:

“Find a variety of rice you love to eat and grow comfortable cooking it, over and over again….the more often that you cook rice the more proficient you’ll grow to be.”

I cook basmati 2–3 times per week. I am never too fussy about quantities as any leftover will get used in soup, packed lunches or re-heated for another meal but allow ⅓ to ½ cup of uncooked rice per person depending on the dish.

  1. Melt 5–10g of salted butter per portion of rice in a sturdy-based saucepan.
  2. Add 1g of salt per portion of rice.
  3. Add the rice to the melted butter and stir to coat.
  4. Add cold water — exactly 2x the amount of rice.
  5. Bring to the boil before turning the heat down to the lowest setting and covering the pan with a good-fitting lid. If the lid allows too much steam to escape the rice may dry out and burn at the bottom.
  6. Leave for 17 minutes, undisturbed, before taking off the heat and leaving, with the lid on, for a further 10 minutes — preferably longer.
  7. When ready to serve take a fork and fluff up the rice before spooning it into your bowl(s).
  8. Delicious rice every time and not a drop of water wasted.

If you don’t like butter or salt then you can simply omit them from the recipe or use an alternative. Equally, if you are cooking the rice in stock you may want to adjust the salt levels to suit.

Enjoy!

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