How to Cook Basmati Rice

Updated on March 3, 2020
Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.

Basmati rice is native to the Indian subcontinent, and its name is loosely translated from Hindi meaning "fragrant." It is a long grain rice, served chiefly, particularly in the West, as an accompaniment to a main dish. The rice comes in both white or brown form. The brown basmati has less of the husk removed, leaving more of the nutritional value intact. Although basmati rice is an incredibly simple cooking ingredient, the purposes for which it can be used and the number of dishes it creates are unlimited.

Wash Prior to Cooking

The principal reason for washing prior to cooking is to remove the excess starch. This helps the rice survive the cooking process and gives it a firmer texture, making it less likely to stick together. Washing the rice also serves to remove any small, loose bits of husk, which may inadvertently remain and spoil the final preparation. The best way to wash the basmati rice is to place it in a fine sieve (as shown) and swirl it gently under some running cold water for about 30 seconds.

It should be noted, however, that not all types of rice should be be washed prior to cooking, as there are occasions where this will have a detrimental effect on the finished dish. The best guide in each instance is to follow the individual recipe.


Boiling Process

Many formulas are touted as being the optimum ratio of water to rice. The practical reality is that there should be enough water in the pot to ensure that the rice does not boil dry. At least twice the volume of water in comparison to rice serves as a more than adequate rule of thumb. Allow about two ounces of rice per serving.

Equally, there is a difference of opinion as to whether the rice should be added to the boiling water or vice versa in order to ensure the least likelihood of the rice grains sticking together. One method suggests adding salt to the boiling water, stirring to form a whirlpool, and then adding the rice. But, it serves the same purpose when you allow the rice to boil for around one minute before stirring it briefly (and only once).

Basmati rice should be boiled for 10 to 12 minutes to achieve the optimum consistency.



When the basmati rice has cooked for the allotted time, it should be drained through the sieve over the sink. Although it may simply be added to the serving plate, presenting it in an appealing fashion is generally desirable.

In order to serve the rice in the manner shown, line a small serving dish with a piece of clingfilm large enough to protrude a couple of inches over the edges all the way around. Pack the rice onto the dish with a spoon before placing the serving plate upside down on top. Simply inverting the two dishes allows the clingfilm to be held firmly in place by its edges while the serving dish is carefully removed. The clingfilm then easily peels away.

The rice can, of course, be served in this way on a separate plate or on the same plate as the principal dish.

Plating Up Basmati Rice
Plating Up Basmati Rice

The Dangers

There are a great many people, who cook regularly with rice of all types, who sadly do not realise the inherent dangers of food poisoning associated with rice and grains. These dangers come to the fore especially when the recipe being prepared requires that the rice be cooled after it has been boiled, prior to engaging in the next stage of the procedure.

Making fried rice is one such occasion when the basmati rice must be cooled fully prior to being fried. If this requirement is not adhered to, the rice will not fry properly and will be served as an extremely unappetising, stodgy mess on a plate. In order to minimise the risks of food poisoning, it is vital that the rice is cooled as quickly as possible and not left at room temperature for any longer than about an hour.

There are two very simple ways in which rice can be cooled quickly in this respect. The easiest is to simply run it under cold water through the sieve after the boiling water has been drained away. Then, simply cover it and leave it to drain. Alternatively, the rice can be spread thinly on plates, covered, and allowed to cool in this fashion.

Stir Fried Basmati Rice

There can be few arguments that stir frying basmati rice after it has been boiled does add a little extra something to the final dish. It is imperative to note, however, that rice does have to be boiled first and cooled, as described above, prior to being stir fried.


  • When the rice has been cooled, a wok should be brought up to a smoking hot heat.
  • Then, add about a tablespoonful of sunflower oil.
  • Do not attempt to cook too much rice at once, as this will affect the overall heat in the wok and spoil the end result. Ideally, you should fry one portion of rice at a time.
  • When the oil is hot, the rice should then be stir fried for about a minute. Be careful of sputtering, which results from moisture remaining in the rice.
  • After this time, a little dark soy sauce should be splashed over the rice and quickly stirred through. It is this (and not the actual frying process) which gives fried rice, as prepared in many Asian recipes, its colour .
  • Note that the seasoning from the soy sauce may eliminate the need for any additional salt.

Fried Basmati Rice
Fried Basmati Rice

How Do You Like to Serve Basmati Rice?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon Hamilton 

      8 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Thank you formosangirl. I hope you get to eat more basmati rice and enjoy the different ways you choose to cook it.

    • formosangirl profile image


      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      I love basmati rice. I am hoping to eat it more in 2012 than our typical short grain or brown jasmine. Very informative.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon Hamilton 

      10 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Thanks, Ethel. The potential health implications of rice came to my attention a number of years ago when a friend of mine who worked in the food industry had to attend a mandatory three day safety course run by the Food Standards Agency on cooking, cooling and selling rice!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      10 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I love this rice. Thanks for adding the health warning which will be useful for inexperienced cooks

    • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon Hamilton 

      10 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Thanks for the comment, manthy. Although I have only ever served basmati rice in this fashion, any other long grain rice would be equally suitable to be served in this way.

    • manthy profile image


      10 years ago from Alabama,USA

      That just looks so awesome the way the rice molds to the bowl and come out ready to eat, I wonder if you can do that with any variety of rice or is it strictly basmati rice?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)