Basmati rice is the beautifully long-grained rice from the Indian Subcontinent. I don’t know of any Pakistani or Indian household that does not have rice available. It is a staple dish that is very simple to make in a rice cooker or on the stovetop, like the one I am making today.
I am not big on kitchen appliances. Let me rephrase that, I am not big on single-use kitchen appliances. If something is going to occupy precious real estate in my kitchen, it must serve multiple uses. Even though I have owned many rice cookers in the past, ones that are $10, ones that are $40, one that come with a steamer insert and ones that allow me to keep the rice warm all day. I found that I never used the appliance enough to justify moving it with me as I moved along with life. I have given away all my rice cookers and discovered a quick way to prepare rice on the stove in 17 minutes that is a hair more difficult than flipping the switch on a rice cooker.
First, I would like to admit that I am partial to a certain brand of basmati rice, Royal Basmati Rice. This brand of basmati rice has been a loyal and consistent friend and when I go forth and experiment with other brands of basmati rice I am always horribly disappointed and try to figure out ways to use up the rice so I can quickly go back to my beloved Royal. I purchase my bag from Costco but believe it is sold at Sam’s Club as well. It is also sold at most Indian grocery stores around the country. The bag looks like this:
To make the perfectly steamed basmati rice, you need to cook the rice in a combination of boiling and then steaming. This will give you the beautiful individual grains of rice that basmati rice is so famous for giving because of the lower starch content.
To cook the rice uniformly, you will need to rehydrate the rice with a soaking process. This will allow the grains to plump up and allow them to cook evenly.
Here’s how I make the most perfect steamed basmati rice.
Take one and a half cups of basmati rice and place it in a bowl.
Rinse the rice multiple times with lukewarm water, about 5 changes of water, to remove the cloudiness that will look like this:
Soak the rice for 30 minutes before cooking. You should soak the rice so there is 2 inches of water above the rice in whatever vessel is holding the rice. You can soak the rice up to one and a half hours, any longer and it will break before cooking.
After 30 minutes, drain the rice well and place into a medium sized saucepan that has a tight fitting lid.
Add in two cups of lukewarm water, 1/4 teaspoon of black cumin seeds (this will perfume your rice and should not be substituted with white cumin seeds), 1/2 teaspoon of a neutral flavored oil (such as canola or vegetable oil, and one teaspoon of kosher salt.
Boil the rice on high to get a rolling boil then immediately lower to medium low, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 17 minutes.
After 17 minutes, allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes, off the heat, to steam. Do not open the lid!
After steaming the rice, uncover and enjoy the beautiful aroma and individual pearls of rice. Serve with your favorite dishes to soak up lentils and sauces.