Basmati rice is a staple of all South Asian cuisine and learning how to cook it perfectly, with each grain separate yet soft and fluffy is a skill most of us spend years perfecting. Fortunately for me I was taught by an expert! My maternal grandmother first asked me to assist her in making plain boiled white rice when I was about 15 and for years I've used her foolproof method to cook my rice on the stove. About a year ago I finally caved and invested in an Instant pot and after some trial and error I've perfected cooking my rice in it. I'll share both methods with you today and let you decide how you prefer to cook yours!
Basmati rice is a long grained rice that has a nutty taste and floral aroma. Its unique length and pointy end makes it easily recognizable. Of the 40,000 varieties of rice, this is the one with the lowest glycemic index and the least amount of arsenic (yes rice has arsenic in it). It comes in two varieties, brown and white, with the brown one being the healthier option although the white one is featured more predominantly in Asian cuisine.
Whichever variety you choose to cook, basmati rice is a great gluten free, low fat, high fibre carb option. Containing 8 Amino acids, folic acid, and tons of other minerals and vitamins, it pairs well with lentils, butter chicken, Kofta Curry, honestly with anything and everything!
Now that we've covered the many benefits of Basmati rice, let's discuss a few basics as far as the cooking technique is concerned. After researching I've realized that there is a clear divide where pre soaking the rice is concerned. I've always soaked mine but decided to try cooking it without soaking it just to experiment. I'm definitely sticking to my side of the camp as the rice was fluffier and softer when I soaked it for 20 minutes.
Rinsing the rice before soaking it is another important step as this removes the starch and Â results in nicely separated grains, which in South Asian cuisine is the desired concistency. I usually rinse my rice 3-5 times, as long as it takes for the water to run clear and then soak it for 20 minutes. This helps remove the arsenic in the rice and the grains start absorbing water during this time, resulting in less cooking time on the stove and the longer, softer grain that is considered perfect.
STOVE TOP METHOD (Serves 4-6 People)
2 Cups Rice
3 Cups Water
1 Teaspoon Â Salt
2 Tablespoons of Oil
- Rinse the rice and set to soak for 20 minutes.
- Throw the water the rice has been soaking in after 20 minutes and put the rice, 3 cups of water, salt and oil on the stove on high.
- Cook till the rice has absorbed all but about 2 Tablespoons of the water, reduce your heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot with foil, sealing tightly around the edges and cover with the lid.
- After 15 minutes turn your stove off, remove the foil carefully as the steam that's released can cause burns, fluff your rice with a fork and serve.
INSTANT POT METHOD (Serves 4-6 People)
2 Cups of Rice
2.5 Cups of Water
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Oil
- Rinse the rice but in this method there is no need to soak it (explanation in the Notes below)
- Add the rice, 2.5 cups of water, salt and oil to the Instant Pot, Seal and set timer for 4 minutes on High Pressure.
- After the 4 minutes are over, do a slow release for 15 Minutes, carefully turn the knob to vent (Water droplets and steam may splatter so be careful ) take lid off and fluff with a fork and serve.
- There is no need to soak the rice as the 10-15 minuets that it takes for the pressure to build is essentially the soaking period.
- The 4 minutes is the time it will take for the water to be absorbed and the 15 minute release time is the steaming stage at the end.
- Typically most guides will tell you that the rice to water ratio for cooking in the Instant pot is 1:1 but I find that 1:1.25 yields better results.As the rice is not presoaked and releases starch, I find that not enough water can cause the starch to stick to the bottom of the Instant pot and set of the burn setting.
I've honestly grown to love cooking my rice in the Instant Pot as it's quicker and requires fewer steps. The timer means you can forget about it while you get the rest of your meal ready and get perfect results.
My other discovery is a parboiled rice called Sela. The rice is parboiled while still in it's husk so it is less sticky, stays firmer when cooked and is easier to digest. When cooked in the Instant Pot using the above method, it has a consistency like Jasmine rice, slightly sticky. My kids love Sticky rice as they call it with stir fries which I often make so this allows me to enjoy all the benefits of basmati rice while pleasing their palate.
If you want your rice to be like traditional Basmati Rice, less sticky with well separated grains, for Sela use the 1:1 ratio of rice to water, following the same process and keeping the salt and oil as suggested. If you want it sticky then use the 1:1.25 ratio.
For Stove Top cooking with Sela, don't soak it as the parboiling has taken care of that stage. Just rinse and then cook as per instructions above.
Hopefully you will find my instructions clear and easy to follow but as always feel free to ask for additional information and help by posting in the comments below.