As the staple grain of India, rice is served with every meal, especially in the south and east of India while west and north Indian homes consume rice and chapati-roti; the Indian wheat bread. Any way you look at it; we Indians cook (and eat) a lot of rice in our lifetime.
Cooking good rice is like everything else- the more often you make it, the better you will be at it. While practice makes perfect, standard units of measure and an understanding of basic techniques will make the process much simpler.
Here are step-by-step instructions to cook the perfect fluffy aromatic Basmati rice:
Start with raw and sorted basmati rice. Using a standard measuring cup (or the same cup every time); measure the rice into a fine strainer.
Wash the rice and put it in a microwave safe glass bowl. Washing the rice helps get rid of some of the starch which is responsible for clumpy rice.
Add water or stock in 1:2 ratio of rice to liquid which just means double the liquid to rice.
Let the rice soak for about 20-30 minutes, this step helps separate and open up the grains before cooking and is especially useful while making brown Basmati rice.
Add any flavorings, seasonings and oil at this stage. Oil helps the flavorings to coat the rice grain and gives that classic glossy look to Basmati rice.
Use the microwave oven to cook rice whenever possible; it really is the most fool-proof method since you can see the rice as it cooks. Start with the rice uncovered and then halfway through cooking, cover the rice bowl and cook further. Since microwaves vary, the way I judge that it’s time to cover the bowl is when I see no liquid floating on top of the rice. Following is a handy approximate rice cooking time guide: White Basmati Rice (1-2 cups): 10-12 minutes uncovered; 5-7 minutes covered Brown Basmati Rice (1-2 cups): 15-18 minutes uncovered; 7-10 minutes covered
Alternative Stove top Cooking Method: If using the stovetop, start by heating oil in a deep pan; put in the seasonings, flavorings and raw washed rice. Next, add the liquid and let it come to a boil. Cook covered till the rice is done. Do not get tempted to uncover and check the rice too often since that can harden the grain. Switch the stovetop off sooner than you think; when you see that the top of the rice is dry.
Once cooked, let the covered rice bowl stand for at least 10-15 minutes before opening. In my opinion, this is one of the most important steps since Basmati rice finishes the cooking process in steam to get that fluffy ‘happy’ look.
Once steamed, fluff the rice very gently with a fork. Leave the rice covered till ready to serve so that it stays warm.
Reheating leftover rice is extremely simple. Add a few tablespoons of water or stock to the cold rice. Cover the bowl and microwave for 4-7 minutes based on the quantity of rice. Fluff it with a fork before serving.