Too starchy, over- or under-cooked, unseasoned — I’ve had it all.
Bad rice ruins the food that it’s eaten with.
Since I’ll be posting a lot of Indian recipes to the blog, I thought it appropriate to begin with a lesson in great, plain basmati rice.
There’s no need to measure basmati rice and there’s no set cooking time. SO EASY.
It’s all about soaking, seasoning, adding acid and testing texture.
Plain Basmati Rice:
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 black peppercorns, whole
1 bay leaf, broken
1 inch cinnamon stick, whole
3 cloves, whole
3 green cardamom pods, whole
1 star anise, whole
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp neutral oil
lots of water
Rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear.
Soak for 30 minutes. No exceptions.
Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to a boil with the spices, lime juice and oil. You want way more water than rice — let’s say about 10 cups. Add enough salt to the water so that you can taste the salt in the water. It’s impossible to season rice properly after it’s cooked, so don’t forget.
When the water is at a rolling boil, drain the soaked rice and add it to the pot. It’s easy to get all of the grains off of the soaking bowl by emersing the bowl in the boiling water.
Leave the pot’s lid off. Allow the rice to come back up to a rolling boil over high heat. Then, reduce to medium-high heat. You know that the water temperature is right when the rice is “dancing” on the surface. In essence, there shouldn’t be so many bubbles that you can’t see the rice rising, but there should be enough bubbles to carry the rice to the surface.
Continue to test the rice for doneness. Never walk away from a pot of rice.
You know it’s done when you can press a grain and it doesn’t break in half but spreads slightly. Too much spread and you’ve overcooked it. Or, just go by mouthfeel: not al dente but not disintegrating.
Drain rice and allow to stand 2 minutes.