How To Cook (White Basmati) Rice

This is quite simply the best, and easiest, way of cooking fragrant Basmati rice.


Basic method for cooking the best basmati

Serves 4


  • 3 cups (720 ml) – the important point here is that it is twice the amount of the rice – water
  • 1 knob of butter (approx 10g)
  • 1½ cups (10½ oz, 300g) of basmati rice – Tilda or Badshah is the best most easily available. For more about basmati and why it’s so special go here.
  • 2 chicken stock cubes (or beef or fish cubes as appropriate)
  • 1 level tsp turmeric
  • couple of pieces of cinnamon about 1½” long
  • salt and pepper


  1. Boil water.
  2. Put butter in a casserole dish and melt.
  3. Add rice, stir to cover with the melted butter (this helps to keep the grains separate).
  4. Measure out one cup of boiling water, dissolve the stock cubes in it.
  5. Add the stock, the rest of the water, and stir in the turmeric, salt and pepper.
  6. Put the lid on the pan and either put in the bottom right aga oven for 15 minutes, or turn down the heat of the hob and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, resisting the temptation to fiddle with it! You don’t want to damage the delicate grains, the starch will be released and it will become sticky and stodgy. Also, if you take the lid off to look steam will escape, water will be lost, the temperature will drop and you will extend the cooking time. If you notice any liquid when you tip the saucepan it probably needs a couple of minutes longer.
  7. Add the cinnamon at the last minute.
  8. Once finished you can cover with a tea towel for a two or three minutes and then fluff up with a fork.
  9. If it needs to be kept warm for more time then put the lid back on otherwise it will dry out, but the sooner it’s eaten the better.


Tips about cooking rice:

  1. Always measure rice by volume rather than weight… you will need double the volume of liquid.
  2. Use the biggest saucepan you can find, the wider the rice is spread the better.
  3. You don’t need to wash white rice – it has already been milled, polished etc. You don’t want to take away any more nutrients than necessary.


Vegetarian saffron pilaf, or stuffing for lamb or turkey

You can make an interesting saffron pilaf/stuffing by substituting the turmeric for a generous amount of saffron (about 150 threads) soaked in about ¼ cup/60 ml boiling water; 3 tbsps chopped nuts (ideally pistachios); 3 tbsps raisins soaked in Earl Grey tea; and 6-7 green cardomom pods, cracked in a pestle and mortar.


How to store leftover rice

Most people know that you have to be particularly careful about storing rice. When it cools down the spores of the bacteria, bacillus cereus, can begin to grow and this bacteria can produce a toxin which may result in food poisoning, especially if the rice is left out in the kitchen at room temperature. Once it begins to germinate it cannot be killed by any amount of heat.

The thing to do is to cool the rice quickly by rinsing with cold water, draining well, and then putting it immediately into the fridge. Use within a maximum two days.


This post is dedicated to the long-suffering Saucy Dressings’ chief taster whose method this is.

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