How to Cook Fluffy Basmati Rice the Easy Way

Updated on May 23, 2020
Kathryn Worthington profile image

What is life without good food? Inspired by home cooking and travel, I create easy recipes for the everyday.

Easy Fluffy Basmati Rice
Easy Fluffy Basmati Rice | Source

Fluffy Basmati Rice

For years I couldn't crack the code of cooking good basmati rice. And by 'good basmati rice' I mean beautiful, fluffy individual strands of rice—the kind that you see in restaurants.

That was until my grandfather, an excellent home cook, who taught me how to cook basmati rice on the stovetop.

Many recipes call for the rice to be soaked for up to 30 minutes before cooking, but for speed, I have skipped this step.

This technique is almost foolproof and makes great basmati rice every time. Below this basic recipe, I have also included my regular recipe for fragrant spiced basmati rice.

Three Golden Rules for Rice

When cooking the rice, there are three golden rules you must always follow:

  1. Thoroughly wash your rice to remove the starch.
  2. Use the right ratio of water to rice.
  3. Do not uncover the rice while cooking.


  • 25-centimetre pan with lid
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fork for fluffing your rice

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 25 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Serves two


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • A generous pinch salt


  1. Thoroughly wash your rice to remove the starch from the grains.
  2. Measure out your water and add to the pan along with rice and salt.
  3. Bring water to the boil.
  4. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat off and cover the pan with the lid.
  5. Leave the pan on the hob for 20 minutes without lifting the pan lid.
  6. After 20 minutes, your rice should have absorbed all the water and cooked in the steam.
  7. Use a fork to fluff your rice.
  8. Serve with your favourite curry or stew.

Tips for Cooking Rice

  • To thoroughly wash away the starch, put your rice into a pan with some water. The water should turn cloudy. Stir the water and, without losing any of the grains of rice, tip the water away. Repeat this until the water in the pan is clear.
  • No matter how tempting, do not lift the lid of the pan while rice is steaming. It is the trapped steam that cooks the rice and creates the fluffy strands we like.
  • You can add all manner of spices to add to the flavour and even the colour of your rice. For instance, add turmeric to turn the rice a beautiful yellow colour, or add cardamon pods to the water.

  • If you prefer your rice more chewy and dry, you can cover your steaming rice with a clean tea-towel or cloth before placing the lid over the steaming pan.

Fragrant Rice With 'Mix-and-Match' Spices

This is my favourite recipe for basmati rice. I make it almost every time I make a curry.

Although you can use ground spices, I prefer to use seeds for texture and appearance. Remember that the smaller the seed, the quicker it will take to cook and 'pop'. For instance, mustard seeds cook very quickly, while coriander seeds take longer. Therefore, make sure to add your bigger seeds to the oil first and your smaller seeds last.

The spices I use vary depending on what is in my cupboard, but my regular recipe goes something like this:


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 small onion or 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds


  1. Heat the oil in a pan.
  2. If you are using fresh onion, fry it in the oil until translucent (if using powder, add to the pan with the rice).
  3. Meanwhile, thoroughly wash your rice to remove the starch from the grains.
  4. To the pan, add cumin seeds and fennel seeds and fry until they become fragrant and start to pop.
  5. Add your rice (and onion powder if using) to the pan.
  6. Stir to ensure the rice is coated with oil, onion and seeds.
  7. Measure out your water and add to the pan, along with the bay leaf and salt.
  8. Bring water to the boil.

  9. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat off and cover the pan with the lid.

  10. Leave the pan on the hob for 20 minutes without lifting the pan lid.
  11. After 20 minutes, your rice should have absorbed all the water and cooked in the steam.
  12. Use a fork to fluff your rice.

There you have it! Delicious fragrant rice that goes beautifully with curry.

You can mix and match the spices as you like, depending on your tastes and what you have in the cupboard.

Another Side Dish Recipe

Braised Canned Peas with 'Odds and Ends': Got a can of peas lying in the back of your cupboard? Make canned peas great again with this vegan store cupboard side dish recipe that uses kitchen leftovers.

© 2019 Kathryn Worthington


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    Post Comment
    • Kathryn Worthington profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Worthington 

      4 months ago from Oxford, UK

      Hi Shauna - glad this has helped! I had no idea until my grandfather told me either!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      This is so interesting and enlightening. I never knew you're supposed to rinse rice before cooking. Now I know why it comes out gummy even when following the package directions.

      Thanks for setting me straight, Kathryn!


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