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Basmati rice in rice cooker

  • m

Whenever I make basmati rice in my rice cooker, it always comes out sticky and clumps together. It never comes out light and fluffy like it is at a Persian or Indian restaurant. It's probably because I'm used to making short grain rice for Chinese food by just adding water and the same technique doesn't work for long grain rice.

So does anyone have some tips of how to make my Basmati rice come out properly? Do I need to add some oil? Maybe change the amount of water used?


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  1. It sounds to me like you haven't been washing the rice first. It's a very important step in making basmati rice.

    I use the bowl from the rice cooker - just cover the rice with water and swish around, then slowly pour off the water. It will take out bits of chaff as well as some of the surface starch from the rice. I don't worry if I lose a few grains of rice.

    1. The light and loose Persian or Indian method uses oil. Maybe this can be achieved in a rice cooker, but I'll say that whenever I've been to an Indian restaurant that uses a rice cooker, the rice is never right.

      Here's a recipe for chello -

      1. rinse the rice well and use less water.

        1. I always rinse the rice, usually 3-4 times, but the rice still comes out sticky.

          Thanks for the link Melanie. Although in the recipe it says to let the rice soak for 2-3 hours. I'm not sure if I have that kind of time, is it really necessary to soak it that long?

          Maybe I will experiment with using a little oil in the rice cooker next time I make basmati. I know it probably won't even be as good as making it in a pot but hopefully I can get something pretty close.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mliew

            If you soak the rice for 20-30 minutes, it will be stickier. Soaking counts for some steaming time. I haven't used Basmati for quite some time, but it definitely needs a modification of water quantity. I can't remember to add or subtract, but normal measure doesn't work. IIRC, Basmati needs more water.

            1. re: mliew

              I rinse the rice about 6-8 times, until the water becomes relatively clear. It never becomes completely clear, but you'll see a big difference from beginning to end. You want to get as much of the starch off as possible. Then just cook it. I sometimes add some oil or ghee, but often don't.

            2. It could be the brand of rice you are buying. I never soak the rice and I make it the same way I would for all other kind of rice.

              rinc a few times with cold water.
              use equal amount of water to rice (I use the rice measureing cup that comes with the cooker)

              that's it, and it turns out fine.

              1. that is correct. equal amounts, not 2:1 like regular long-grain.

                1. Here's how I make basmati in my rice cooker, and it never comes out sticky.

                  1. Rinse your rice well and several times (I saw that you already do that)
                  2. Use a ratio of 1 measure of rice to 1.5 measures of water
                  3. Add salt (half tsp per rice "cup")
                  4. Add olive oil or butter - I prefer oil (1 good swirl per "cup" of rice)
                  5. Start your cooker
                  6. Once the rice is cooked, let it rest for a few minutes, ideally 15-30 minutes, without touching the rice.

                  Good luck!

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: pâté chinois

                    Excellent instruction and perfect ratios. Folks this is your answer. Came out heavenly! Thank you pate chinois.

                    1. re: pâté chinois

                      This was the perfect recipe! All the instructions were accurate..my rice came out perfect! Thanks!

                      1. re: ktejaswini

                        I'm glad this was helpful! I guess having Persian friends helps in the rice cooking department :)

                        If you want to vary, add a few crushed and steeped strands of saffron. Do not add more water, just use a bit of the water you would normally use. MMMMmmmm! Saffron rice!

                        1. re: pâté chinois

                          I'm having a girls night on Friday and have purchased a rice cooker, I shall try your receipe, I want to add some herbs top add a bit of colour and flavour, what would you suggest and should I add them into the cooker with the rice. There will be 7 of us, how much rice shall I make?

                          1. re: Stefanieabarnett

                            Stfanieabarnett, I am really late replying, so I hope your rice came out well and you enjoyed it! I like to fold lime juice and zest and parsley once the rice is cooked, or make it more Persian with dill and fava beans (added to the rice before cooking it).

                            1. re: pâté chinois

                              This sounds good, will have to look into Persian rice when I get my rice cooker. I bookmarked the thread for your original explanation.

                          2. re: pâté chinois

                            Pate chinois, can you tell me if there is a different method for brown basmati? I made brown basmati in my Zojirushi rice cooker on the brown rice setting and it turned to complete mush.

                            I'm going to try your above method today with white basmati, but would still like to try brown basmati again.

                            1. re: NotSoHot

                              NotSoHot, I use the same method with brown rice, using a water to rice ratio of 2:1.

                              1. re: pâté chinois

                                Thanks! Would you use the brown rice setting or the white rice setting? My cooker also has a "semibrown" setting that I've never used.

                                1. re: NotSoHot

                                  No idea - my cooker has no fancy settings, just cook and keep warm. :)

                                  1. re: pâté chinois

                                    Okay, I'll just try it on the white rice setting since I can always cook it further if necessary.

                                    I did try a method very similar to yours last week with white basmati and it came out perfectly--oh, except that I didn't fluff all the way down to the bottom and got a little bit of a crust. I need to get a plastic fork that won't scratch the cooker.

                            2. re: pâté chinois

                              Just wanted to mention that I followed these directions on Wednesday night, and my basmati rice came out great! It was my first time ever using a rice cooker where I came out with non-sticky rice! Awesome! I realize this was posted in 2006, but it's still helping me nearly 8 years later!
                              Dave MP

                            3. I have never used a rice cooker in my life, but I have grown up eating basmati rice and make it myself (my father is from India.) Here's how I learned how to do it: first soak the rice for maybe a half hour or so in a normal pot. I think longer is fine, but you do need to soak it for a bit. Next, drain the water from the rice and add twice as much new water as you have rice (1 cup of rice, 2 cups water, etc.) Put the pot uncovered on the stove on high heat and let it come to a boil. When the water boils, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. My parents always use a dish towel folded to fit over the pot but I use the lid to the pot, partially cracked. Let the rice finish cooking--try not to check it very much but if you do, just kind of use a spoon to check at the edge if all the water is gone. Don't let it go completely bone dry on the bottom, when the water has just disappeared, you can turn off the heat and leave the lid on until you're ready to eat it. Give it a little stir and you're good to go.

                              As far as brands, Tilda is good, but I have used other types all cooked in this fashion and I can't tell a difference.

                              1. I don't soak but rince twice. I then use the same amount of water that my rice cooker recommends for sticky rice but I add about a tablespoon of butter per cup of rice and a pinch of salt. Comes out great. It gets a bit dried out and hard if I leave it warming in the rice cooker for more than an hour. My rice comes out nice and fluffy and really fragrant.

                                1. In my family we eat basmati rice with nearly every meal and unless it is for a pullao or something, I always prepare it in a rice cooker. I do not have the clumpy problem. Actually, I get compliments on my rice. Here is what I do: I use Tilda brand rice because I have been using it for years and I know how it "behaves," you will have to practice with your brand of rice because some require longer soaking, etc. So for Tilda, wash well and soak for only 10 minutes but do not exceed 10 minutes or it will get mushy. You can skip the soaking if you prefer firmer rice. Then I use 2 cups water to one cup rice. I salt the water, add in the rice, and cook. When the button pops saying it is done, I allow the rice to "rest" for approximately 10 minutes by removing the lid once, allowing some steam to come off, then recovering it and leaving it alone. If you attempt to fluff the rice before this resting period, the grains will break apart. Basmati is finicky and sensitive. After ten minutes, I fluff the rice by stirring it with a fork and stir in a drop of ghee at that time. It always comes out fluffy. I have noticed though that if I do not fluff after 10 minutes and I let it sit there for a long time and then fluff, it will stick together and get clumpy. Even my hawk eyed mother in law complimented my rice saying it was perfectly "dumm" or cooked in the traditional parboiling method. She couldn't tell it was done in a rice cooker, hahaha!

                                  1. Here's how to cook Tilda Basmati rice properly: Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over high heat until almost smoking. Add a 3-inch piece of a cinnamon stick that's been halved 2 whole cloves and 2 green cardamom pods, and cook, stirring until they pop. Add 1/4 thinly sliced onion and cook, stirring until translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup rice and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1-1/2 cups water and a teaspoon of table salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, over tightly, and simmer until all the water has been absorbed, about 17 minutes. Let it stand, covered, at least 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: teemai

                                      Very good recipe and worked perfect, easiest way to make it.

                                      1. re: teemai

                                        Where can I buy Tilda rice? Do I have to go to a specialty market?

                                        1. re: ChristeMihok

                                          I've purchased mine from Amazon. See http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_...

                                          for a number of different buys -- even Kosher!

                                          1. re: ChristeMihok

                                            Tilda Basmati is available at any Indian Stores, but it is the most expensive brand of Basmati. There are other cheaper brands, which when cooked properly, are as good as Tilda.

                                            I always wash/rinse the rice 3-4 times. If Basmati, 1:1 ratio with water and if Sona Masoori, 1:1.5 ratio. Sometimes we do Pulao like Teemai, but have been cooking a lot in the rice cooker lately. Add a couple tbspn of butter, a tsp of Cumin seeds, 1-2 crushed pods of cardamom, a piece of cinnamon, a bay leaf and you have "jeera rice" in your rice cooker. Dont forget to pull the cord out & fluff the rice within the first 5 to 10 minutes after the button pops to warm setting.

                                        2. As long as you put a teaspoon or so of olive oil in the rice to coat the rice and cook it for a minute or two BEFORE adding your water, it should stay separate. I had the same problem before learning that trick. :-)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ChristeMihok

                                            I don't get the point of coating the rice with oil first. Isn't the rice supposed to absorb the water?
                                            Anyway. Been using a rice cooker for many years. For basmati I rinse two cups of rice in cool water a couple of times using the rice cooking container, to remove some of the starch. I add two cups and about an extra ounce of water to the cooker. Remember the rice is already coated in water. I like to stir in a t of Better Than Bullion (chicken) for extra flavour sometimes. Sometimes not.
                                            Basmati rice perfect and fluffy every time.

                                          2. You need a high powered rice cooker with a long-grain rice setting. Check out the Tiger Induction Heating JKJ-G10U. The cooker has an on board cooking programs to handle the high heat and non soaking needed to cook Jasmine and Bhasmati. http://www.usa.tiger-corporation.com/...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: nt001112233

                                              I respectfully disagree; I have made long grain rice in a less-than-$500 rice cooker many times without it coming out sticky/clumped together.

                                            2. In college I bought quality basmati. I'd cook it in a rice cooker, used (1 cup rice/1.15 cups water) ratio. Rice and olive oil w/salt would be mixed until all the rice is coated (very simple, a little shake or mix will do it) then added water. I always got good results. Sometimes I'd let the rice soak a little as the package specified but not always or even usually. Salt/fat is essential IMO, I really don't bother rinsing but if you do make sure you do a good job rinsing (water runs clear) - I tend to get sticker results when I rinse. I believe I bought kohinoor a lot but didn't always get the same brand.

                                              PS: this was a 15 dollar vented target "Rival" rice cooker. You don't need a fancy cooker unless you want to make perfect brown rice IMO...(and even then the oven works...)

                                                1. I have a really cheap rice cooker. Use it a couple of times a week.
                                                  Cook basmati rice all the time.
                                                  I take one cup of rice and rinse it a couple of times in cold water.
                                                  This removes most of any 'rice flour' used to keep the rice from sticking together in the bag I guess.
                                                  Dump the cup of rinsed rice in the cooker. Then add one cup and a 'little bit' extra water, like an ounce, to the cooker. Give it a little swirl. Lid on. Press down little button and the light turns red. In a few minutes I hear a little 'click' and the light has turned orange meaning the cooker is keeping the rice warm.
                                                  Remove lid. Rice is perfectly cooked. Fluffy not sticky.
                                                  I look for the best (most expensive) Basmati rice at the Asian market.
                                                  "Never had a bad bottle yet". LOL
                                                  BTW this is exactly the rice/water ratio/method I use for every type of rice I cook in the rice cooker. Always perfect results.
                                                  One maybe important point: I live right at sea level. Using my method at say four thousand feet may yield quite different results.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                    When I did have a rice cooker, it was a National/Panasonic 10-cup, plain aluminum [no non-stick] and it performed like a dream for more than 15 years. No settings on it for basmati,Sticky rice or anything else! Just Cook and Warm. As you say, one an cook a whole gallery of interesting stuff, providing one knows what is doing and takes a little time: a range of biryanis, many Japanese foods, and so on.

                                                    I experience extreme sticker shock when I see the prices being charged for many of the modern Japanese and other rice cookers. Perhaps they are liked by equally modern buyers who lack time and the necessary skills to use the older models. Likewise, I detest anything digital in my appliances, since I think analog circuits work well, work on simple, accurate, reliable principles sufficient for the home and commercial kitchens where I have worked for a long time. Digital spells trouble. They do not like heat, hot grease and the difficult conditions present during heavy use in busy kitchens.

                                                  2. I use my Tatung classic (water is inside and outside of the rice pot). For me, after washing several times I add water that is 1 more than the amount of rice I measured. Ex. If I measure 3 cups of the rice cooker cups then I add water to the 4 water mark on the pot. I also add water to the 4 for the outer part. For regular long grain rice and Japanese rice I use the suggested measurements on the side of the pot, but for Japanese rice I soak for 30-45 minutes before I put it into the pot and cook it. Soaking time depends on how old the rice is.

                                                    1. mliew,

                                                      Please pardon my saying so, but your post above struck me as the joining together of two opposite methods of cooking. You speak of wanting to cook YOUR basmati rice in a rice cooker, [make not specified, e.g. Zojirushi fuzzy logic, vs. various others calibrated to sense when the rice runs out of water and the temperature begins to rise in the pan] and seek results comparable to the LIGHT FLUFFY rice served in Iranian and Indian RESTAURANTS.

                                                      There are 2 separate issues here. First, Iranian and Indian restaurants, for the type of rice you are speaking about, cook their rice in a way that is quite different than how a rice cooker cooks it. If you do it their way, your basmati will be almost as fluffy and light.

                                                      First, they know what vintage their rice is, as it varies from batch to batch, and all basmatis are not created equal.

                                                      The term "basmati" is much abused. Originally, LONG GRAIN basmati [there are medium and short grain aromatic rices as well] were found in isolated pockets in northern India, just 2 in fact, and similar small areas in Iran, producing mainly 2 types, Dom-siah [black-tailed] and Ambar-boo [Amber-fragrance]. There were variants of the first type, the long-grain aromatics. We can call all of these "land-races" i.e. varieties preserved by farmers selecting the best plants from their fields each year according to their own judgment. Local conditions continued to act as the selection pressure, so that the basmati of the Dehra Dun valley retained its characteristics, that of Jammu its own, and so did the Iranian types. These were reserved for the VERY FORTUNATE FEW. It was rare in my childhood for an ordinary middle class Indian to eat basmati more than once or twice a YEAR, if that.

                                                      Later, plant breeders cross-bred these types, which have natural barriers to breeding with other [higher yielding] rices, and produced genetic hybrids with many other sorts. These crosses technically remain basmati, in the sense that they retain > 20odd percentage points of aroma, X amount of longitudinal expansion, Y amount of breadth upon cooking and a whole host of parameters. BUT not everything can be reduced down to chemistry and rheology. That is why there is basmati that is sold at a wholesale rate of less than $1000/metric ton.

                                                      These basmati crosses present a problem, because they have decidedly lower quality, masquerading under the "basmati" name. Even in the US, we have Texmati and many other such derivatives.

                                                      Iranian and Indian restaurant soak their rices, and Iranians are also very careful of the acidity and alkalinity of the water when cooking or soaking rice. A little acidity in the cooking water allows rice to hold its shape and color much better, and this has been known by generations of pulao and biriyani cooks. Lemon juice or white vinegar works well. Just a touch.

                                                      The other factor, as mentioned by Fatimaji, is correct washing, not breaking grains during washing, and correct soaking time. Then, restaurants and even homes, drop the rices in a large excess of boiling water that may or may not be salted. It is brought back up to the boil and the rice is cooked for a scant 5-6 minutes, depending on the end use, say 50-60% cooked and the insides are hard. When you press on a grain they will tend to come apart longitudinally in 3 pieces. This is best learned under an experienced cook.

                                                      The rice is well-drained [or not, depending on the end use]. I am supposing a simple chelo type rice. A heavy bottomed pan is liberally coated with butter or ghee and the steaming rice is added, in a cone. Some more butter or ghee is poured over, melted or warmed, of course. A heavy lid that is wrapped with a cotton cover is placed over the rice and the pot placed over a reasonably high heat [dispersed/diffused] which is then lowered once steam has developed and the rice allowed to cook in the steam. Careful maipulation of time X heat allows a bottom crust to develop [slowly]. This is what gives you light and fluffy rice. The draining out of the cooking water and the subsequent steaming with butter or ghee.

                                                      The rice cooker allows all the starchy water to remain with the cooked rice, leading to a slightly heavier mouth-feel. That is both logical and unavoidable by the very nature of the chosen cooking process. It can be countered by the various methods indicated, some of which try to gelatinize the starch prior to boiling. Hence, the cooking in oil before adding water. Without this pre-gelatinization, the starch released by the cooking will remain and eventually settle around the cooked grains. You can minimize but not eliminate this effect. You should get reasonably great rice by following the steps of experienced cooks here, but please know why the restaurants have a different quality, which you can also exactly duplicate.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: GTM

                                                        Thankyou very much for sharing the information.
                                                        So if I were to first rinse the rice then drain then precook the rice in some clarified butter for a few minutes over medium heat then put it in the rice cooker as usual would that be 'pre-gelatinization?

                                                        I think I'm confused. Is the basic Basmati rice we buy 'parboiled' (converted)?

                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                          Yes, it would be. But, you appreciate that the end product would taste more like rice pilaf than the light, white cloud-like rice, do you not?

                                                          May I ask you if you are open to another experiment, since you already are willing to go to the trouble of cooking in butter? If you are set on using your rice cooker, please melt your butter in it. Then wash well and lightly soak your rice, 10-20 minutes depending on the particular brand. Cook the rice on the stovetop in a fairly large saucepan as you do a good pasta, in an excess of boiling water, to which you have added a squeeze of lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice will do. Rice will stay in boiling water no more than 5-6 minutes. Drain in a good colander or chinese hat.

                                                          Center will be hard and will crumble between your index finger and thumb as you pull it down towards the base of your index finger in a characteristic 3 part fracture. It will break into 3 distinct grains with chalky white insides. If it is cooked beyond this stage, it will adhere as a whole grain! Too much! But don't worry, cooking is about learning and having fun. There is no one watching over your shoulders. Practice is important and you should not be disappointed if you need several runs.

                                                          Place this drained rice, steaming hot, into your rice cooker, in which a nice quantity of butter has formed an inviting bed! Cover. You may decide to use a thin cloth, or just leave things be, since the cooker lid has a tiny hole. The cook button should go from Warm to COOK. Depending on the cooker, and I have not had one for ages, it might take you 10-15 minutes to steam this rice. You should get smooth, light fluffy rice.

                                                          This is the way to make excellent simple biryanis in your cooker, without too much fat or too many complications. That is, if you like the idea and flavors of biryanis made with rice cooked like this. Let me know, and we can discuss this issue further.

                                                          Just keep an eye out for tiny details, without getting too wound up. Sometimes,one glosses over aspects that are familiar to one but may not be to another, owing to this being a new method. But some tiny detail might be important that has been left out. Please let me know if that has been the case. One such detail is to not stir the boiling rice more than once to settle it in the water. Otherwise it will break and also release more starch than otherwise. Keep it at a rolling boil. Very brief boiling, go by the cooking stage, not by time.

                                                          Happy cooking.