Basmati Rice

How to Cook The Perfect White Basmati Rice: Top Tips & Tricks!

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Updated on February 4, 2024

Reviewed by Noha Basiony

Rice–the plain, old grains that we all know but, for some reason, are afraid to go near it when it comes to cooking. Any person who ever decided to start learning how to cook got a head-on battle with these white grains, and God knows how many of us lost honourably. Even accomplished cooks have had their fair share of lost battles with rice.

Did you know? Rice is a symbol of life and fertility in most ancient cultures. Throwing uncooked rice grains at the bride and groom to send them off is an ancient nuptial tradition that some people still perform to this day.

Today, however, we will try to end this inexplicable fear because rice is just too awesome to skip learning how to make it, and a bowl of warm Basmati rice pairs so well with most Asian dishes, making perfect and fulfilling dinners.

We had the pleasure of having Belfast Cookery School’s Ian Hunter, one of the veterans of the Northern Irish restaurant scene, show us how to cook the fluffiest, most perfect Basmati rice. 

The Perfect Basmati Rice

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If you are just starting to learn how to cook Basmati rice, we recommend starting off with a small portion.

First things first, we need one cup of white Basmati rice. You can simply find it in most grocery stores. Any brand would do the job. 

Rinse your rice under cold water until all the excess starch is removed. This simple process won’t take any long because Basmati rice has the least starch content among all the other kinds of rice. 

The next step begs the question: what is the perfect rice-to-water ratio? Ian suggests that the perfect ratio for white Basmati rice is 1:2, meaning that for each cup of white Basmati rice, it is ideal to add two cups of lukewarm water. If you are in a hurry, though, you can add boiling water instead. 

Now, add your rice and water to a pot, close it with your lid, and bring to a boil. This should take from 8 to 9 minutes. 

The first thing you should be looking for is moisture. Once the time is up, give your rice a couple of stirs to check if there is any water lurking behind the scenes. If all the water has evaporated, this means you have successfully achieved the perfect cooked white rice! Fluff up the rice with a fork, then season with salt.

As you may have noticed, Ian doesn’t add any salt to the water while the rice is being cooked. Adding salt at the start of the cooking process can intensify the flavour of the salt as the water decreases. So, to avoid overseasoning, Ian recommends adding your desired amount of salt at the very end. 

Scoop some rice in a bowl, and voila! You have now skillfully mastered cooking the perfect Basmati rice. 

What Is White Basmati Rice Used For?

White Basmati rice is widely used as a staple in South Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Popular dishes include the flavoursome Biryani and the Saudi Arabian Kebsa. In most countries, if curry exists, you will find Basmati rice right next to it! 

What Pairs Well With White Basmati Rice?

White rice adapts so well to saucy and flavourful dishes. White Basmati rice, in particular, is the perfect companion for many beloved Asian and Middle Eastern Dishes, but it also pairs well with saucy Western dishes. Let’s explore some of the ways you can serve your perfect bowl of rice. 

Chicken Biryani

basmati rice

There are many variations of biryani out there, but the chicken biryani dish is the classic. Its origin is quite a mystery since many South Asian countries serve the aromatic dish, but one thing for sure is that whichever country you take your recipe from, you will be delighted by the burst of flavours. It is also a great one-pot meal that only needs the chicken to be marinated with yoghurt, garam masala, and a bunch of other easy-to-find spices and herbs.

After you are done cooking it with some aromatics (onions, bay leaves, cardamoms, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon sticks), layer your Basmati rice on top of the cooked chicken, add some fresh mint leaves, add another layer of rice, and top all this off with boiling water. Once done, a mixture of milk & saffron and a handful of crispy onions will turn this easy one-pot meal into a luxurious dish of fluffy rice!   

Beef Stroganoff

basmati rice

Though its motherland is Russia, beef stroganoff has travelled across the globe, giving us many variants of this creamy delicacy. Though it is most commonly served with pasta, white Basmati rice can be the perfect bottom layer that can suck all the juices from the beef stroganoff. The tender beef strips, soaked in the creamy gravy of sauteed white onions and mushrooms, can elevate your rice and take it to a whole other level. 

Crispy Honey-Mustard Chicken 

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Honey and mustard are the perfect buddies for a juicy, tender, and crispy chicken fillet. Use Dijon mustard for the ideal mixture of a creamy honey-mustard sauce, but remember to save some to drizzle it on top of the crispy chicken.

Dip your not-so-thick not-so-thin chicken breast into the sauce thoroughly, then coat it with  Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). Your chicken won’t need a lot of seasoning since the honey-mustard sauce will be the star of the show, so just sprinkle an adequate amount of salt and black pepper before coating the chicken with the sauce and the breadcrumbs. Place the fluffy white Basmati rice on a plate, top it with the crispy fried chicken, and drizzle as much as you want of the honey-mustard sauce on top of all that. For the best meal, serve this dish with any kind of salad you fancy.

Roast Irish Chicken Supreme 

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The classic chicken supreme, but make it Irish! Head Chef and co-owner of Home Restaurant, Ben Arnold, turns the beloved chicken supreme dish into an Irish delicacy with some twists, but trust us; he does not compromise the flavour at all! The crispy-skinned chicken breast is bathed in a herbal butter mixture and served with buttered spinach and saucy mushrooms (also loaded with butter!). This makes it a great companion to have on top of our fluffy white Basmati rice! 

Salmon Fillet

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Achieving the perfect salmon fillet might be tricky–nobody wants it too dry or slightly uncooked. The crispy skin of the salmon fillet with the mixture of melted butter, garlic cloves, and fresh sage will be the perfect companion to your bowl of rice. Just make sure to use unsalted butter since you will be seasoning the salmon fillet. Make small incisions along the skin so the meat cooks thoroughly, and basically treat it like how you’d treat a steak; make sure it’s a little pink on the inside. Overcooking the meat of the salmon will result in a dry outcome, and no one wants that!

After placing your fillet on top of your Basmati rice and drizzling all the oils from the pan, wait a few minutes before digging in. Eating this delicacy ‘very hot’ will not allow your taste buds to take in all the flavours. 

Indian Butter Chicken

basmati rice

Who doesn’t like dunking their hot garlic or cheese naan into the sauce of the creamy butter chicken to get the most amazing bite of Indian cuisine? But did you know that the classic companion to the beloved Indian dish is actually white Basmati rice? The grains of the rice are the ideal sponge to draw in the juiciness of the tender chicken bathed in a creamy sauce of herbs and spices and buttered cashews. Honestly, what can top this?!

Can You Store White Basmati Rice In The Freezer?

Absolutely! You can freeze any rice, not just white Basmati rice, in portions. Just add it to an airtight container and take it out to reheat in the microwave whenever you are in need of a warm bowl of fluffy rice or whenever you are having a curry for dinner! This will save you so much time and help you with meal prepping. 

The Perfect White Basmati Rice Recipe

Here is the ingredient list and summarised instructions for a perfect bowl of rice:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white Basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Add your cup of rice with two cups of water in a saucepan.
  2. Top it with the lid and place it over medium heat. 
  3. Bring the rice to a boil.
  4. Check after 8 to 9 minutes to see if all the water has evaporated. Do this by carefully stirring the rice.
  5. Once you’re done, bring a fork and fluff up the rice while it’s still hot.
  6. Serve hot alongside your favourite saucy dish.  

If you are wondering in which recipes other types of rice are used, check the most popular South Korean dishes and the most beloved Japanese meals! They are full of carbs and delights. 

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