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May 15, 2008 01:16 PM

Basmati Rice - Help with Cooking

I have several questions about cooking basmati rice.

Most recipes call for rinsing basmati rice before use. On occasion, the recipe (for instance, "Basmati Rice with Sweet Onions and Summer Herbs", Bon Appetit June 2008), then calls for you to saute the rice in an oil. However, the rice is wet at this point. It seems as if my rice is consistently "mushy" when I follow this technique. Does anyone have insight into this process of rinsing, then sauteing "wet" rice?

Second question - I've eaten basmati at one restaurant that is beyond wonderful! It's light, grains separate, with some grains (maybe one out of thirty grains) being a light tan color. I've asked the restaurant how they make the rice - they tell me it's a "secret". Any thoughts? Is this a special rice? (with the occasional tannish grain). Or, is there something about technique that makes good basmati rice?


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  1. I'm not sure I'd blame the rinsing for the mushy quality. Maybe you are using too much water- the method I usually use is as suggested by Madhur Jaffrey and it has you both rinse and soak the rice, but then you cut back on the water to like 1-1/3 cups per cup of rice. I tend to get nicely separated rice with good texture. I like to use Elephant brand aged basmati, so maybe that also plays a part.

    As to the saute, and the tan colored grains- if you allow your rinsed rice to drain in a strainer for a while first you probably will have better luck getting the bottom layer to brown a bit. It also may help to use a pot with a large amount of surface area to allow any steam to escape more quickly. Many restaurants will make their rice in the oven, in a sautoir, which is large and shallow- I'd guess that it's no more of a secret than that.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TongoRad

      I agree with the folks who don't rinse. No need to rinse. I cook about 1.5 cup of liquid to a cup of rice. Dump in a pot, add a tablespoon of butter (or oil, if you prefer) and heat to boiling, reduce heat to a simmer for ten minutes, then remove from heat and keep covered for about 15 minutes. Comes out perfect every time.

    2. 1.5 cups of water (or slightly less) to 1 cup of rice. I find that most rice available in the U.S. these days does not need to be rinsed or soaked. I also toss the rice with a dab or two of melted butter before adding water, and another dab or once it's done. Results (using my little rice cooker) are excellent.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jbentley4

        I also use 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup rice and 2 Tbs olive oil or butter. Very low heat and cook it covered 45 minutes. Made fried rice with green onions, ham and eggs and added the cold rice. no soy sauce. It was fine.

      2. you might want to check out this previous thread. there are some very good suggestions here...

        1. Buy an inexpensive rice cooker, they have them at Walgreens under $20- it is the easiest solution.

          1. Try this to get the restaurant consistency rice: saute unwashed rice in either olive oil or ghee (clarified butter) or even butter. Fry till you see lot of color on grains. Then add water on the stove top at this point or transfer to a rice cooker. Add either 1:1.5 or 1:2 ratio water (both work fine, just depends on how much al dente you want your rice to be). When the rice is done, fluff it once and let stand few minutes uncovered. The color on rice will be much lighter than you saw when fried and this also helps the grain to remain separated and get a shine on them.