How to cook Basmati Rice

I have a finicky Emirati husband.  Basmati rice has started many wars in my house.  

There were times my husband would refuse to eat the rice I cooked and would go to one of the public kitchens and buy a container of cooked rice to eat with the stews I cooked.

The rice was either overcooked in that it was mushy or  undercooked and still crunchy.  I used to just add water and cook it with the quick-boil method but the rice would stick together.

It has taken me years to learn how to properly cook basmati rice so that it turns out nice and fluffy.  The secret is in the size of the pot you use and how long you let the rice soak.  You need an extra-large pot to cook the rice in.  The rice needs lots of room to move around when it is boiling.

Here is my recipe:

2 cups of Basmati rice (I use India Gate because the rice has been aged and the kernals of the rice are long…plus it has a delicious taste!)

india gate

extra-large pot


1 tablespoon cooking oil

a timer

Place the rice in a large bowl and fill it up with water. 

Carefully wash the rice so that you do not break the kernals.  Cup your hand slightly and slowly wash the rice.  I turn my hand in the bowl 20 times. 

Drain the water and repeat the above two more times. 

Drain the water and then pour water over the rice again with enough water to just cover the rice by about an inch.

Now you let the rice soak for at least 30 minutes but better if you let it soak for an hour.

Meanwhile, fill the extra-large pot half way with water.  A good guide is to use 3 liters of waters for every 1 cup of rice.

Add 1/4 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot of water.

Bring the water to a full rolling boil.

Drain the rice in a strainer and add to the pot.  Stir once.

Cover the pot with a lid and when the water starts boiling again remove the lid.  This takes about a minute.

Have a large strainer waiting in the sink to drain the rice.

Let the rice boil for exactly 5 minutes.  Trust me when I say exactly 5 minutes because if it is less time or more time it will greatly affect the texture of the rice.

Drain the rice in the strainer and gently, very gently, shake the strainer to get out all of the excess water.

Return the rice to pot and keep warm until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve the rice.  Gently fluff the rice with a large fork or large wide serving spoon.

Arrange on a platter.

An tasty variation:

At the end of cooking the rice you have the option of adding fried onions.  It is very, very delicious!  I do not do this often because it is fatty but try to at least make it this way once.  You will need the following:

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup cooking oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  When hot add the chopped onion and stir.  Stir the onion every now and then until it becomes a nice golder color.

Now take a large spoon and scoop out the fried onion and scatter it over the cooked rice that is still in the pot.  Drizzle the oil that you cooked the onion in over the rice. 

When it is time to serve the rice.  You will fluff the rice and the onion and oil will be incorporated into the rice.  Yummy!

(No pictures available right now, but I will post ASAP)

17 responses to “How to cook Basmati Rice

  1. ohhhh thanks! i will try it this way….i CANNOT EVER make the rice correct….always comes out sticky….ive tried everything save standing on my head while it boils….lol….

  2. Hi, I hope that it turns out well for you! 🙂

  3. Salam I can’t cook rice to save my life so I’m trying it your way tonight and inshallah it will turn out good. If your doing double quantities, do you add more salt or keep it to the same amount

  4. Salaam, thank you for stopping by and for commenting….sorry it took so long to reply back. If I am cooking 2 cups of rice I will use the 1/4 cup of salt but if I am cooking with 4 cups of rice I will add a little bit more….maybe 2 tbsp more of salt. I hope that this helps. InshaAllah your rice turned out well.

  5. Hi,

    I look forward trying your method since mine just doesn’t work. I have a question regarding: “Return the rice to pot and keep warm until ready to serve.”

    What is the minumum time I should keep the rice warm in the covered pot before serving it? 10 mins?


  6. Salam sisters, it also took me years to learn how to cook basmati rice properly and to really master it or play with it, basmati rice seems to have a life of its own and is very ‘sensitive’ if I may say, I remember how I used to be sooooo embarassed when I used to bring my husband some mushy unsalted thing, after many efforts and to much or to less water!!!!and my husband is the type who likes to ‘annoy’ me, used to laugh and say ‘WHAT is that???!!! uhm uhmm…….
    Don’t give up it will happen! one day that was it!!! I finally got it and then afterwords I was able to make kapsas, byrianis, one pot dish of meat, fish,prawn and rice………..that’s byriani for you, just keep trying until you finally get it, and voila!!!

    good luck to all

  7. Hi,
    Sorry for the late reply.

    I think 20 minutes is just right to let the rice set, InshaAllah.

  8. Thank you for your comment sister! 🙂

  9. I make basmati rice a bit differently. I usually put the exact amount of water and let it cook until all the water is gone and voila! and no draining.

    It is usually close to 2 cups liquid per 1 cup rice, but it depends on if the liquid has a lot of oil content (like when you make kabsa and such).

    I also usually only let it soak about 15 to 20 minutes, but it depends on the brand and pot I am using to cook it in 😛

  10. Yes, that is the quick-cook method. Sometimes though using the 1 cup rice and 2 cups water ratio gives a little bit of a mushy rice (depending on the brand and the pot 😛 hehehe). I have learned that if you use 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups water the rice will be nice and firm. Try that one day and let me know, InshaAllah, how it turns out for you 🙂

    My hubby likes the rice to be loose and fluffy that is why I make it the long way. 🙂

  11. I tried your rice cooking method this evening and was incredibly pleased with the result! I couldn’t believe how perfectly the rice turned out. Thank you for this post- I will always cook my basmati rice in this fashion from now on!!!

  12. Hi Natalie, I am so happy to find out that it worked out well for you!

  13. Hey there MaryAnn,

    I seem to be having a bit of a problem with the recipe, I grabbed my biggest pot I have in my house and even then 3 liters for every cup of water seemed way too much and 9 liters just seems ridiculous for 3 cups. And to top it off, it will most definitely not take just a minute for the water to boil for 3 liters, let alone 9. Sorry but this seems very strange, and considering the amount of practice it takes to get basmati right then this would make it more weird for me to consider. Please edit this recipe if it is indeed wrong. Thank you.

  14. Ok what I did was I used 3 liters of water for 1-3 cups of rice, I figured if the purpose of the water was just to boil the rice then it didn’t matter the amount so as long it’s submerged in water anyways. My first attempt after 5 minutes of boiling was to drain the water and then put it back in the pot and leaving it warm. This turned out the rice to be mushy because the rice was still cooking and didn’t really help at all. My second attempt was to boil it for 5 minutes and then drain the water and instantly pour cold water over it to stop the cooking process, then back into the pot – form the pyramid shaped and leave an indentation at the tip and leave it cooking for another 5 minutes on med-high heat, I removed it and put it on a plate and with a fork I can notice the texture was excellent and each rice was individually on it’s own and not pressed together. Thank you.

  15. Hi Bob, I am glad that you were able to figure it out! Thank you! 🙂

  16. Hi MaryAnn,

    So happy I stumbled across your blog. This very simple recipe is the best recipe ever! No kidding, I tried it yesterday and for the first time in my life basmati rice has the texture it should. My husband and I loved it.

    Can’t wait to try your kabsa recipe!

  17. Hi Carmen! I am so happy that you tried my recipe and it turned out well for you! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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