Let’s face it, cooking rice perfectly is an art. Fine, long grained Basmati which holds its shape, does not get mushy and when you serve the meal, the rice grains have to fall perfectly on to the plate. It looks like my grandma cracked the code for perfectly cooked rice a long, long time ago. And this is her recipe for perfect and beautifully flavoured rice. I’d say it’s a little like a dessert recipe where you have to follow every instruction to the T to get the right results. Sure, it’s a tad time consuming but the end result is a 100% worth it if you, like me, are not a fan of mushy goo instead of perfect rice every single time. But I must warn you, this isn’t the easiest recipe. So, here goes.
Things you will need:
- Long grained Basmati rice- 2 cups (I recommend you use a reasonably good quality brand of rice. As for the cup, I use the 1 cup measurement that I use while baking. But that doesn’t matter. Pick any cup/glass that you regularly use for measuring rice and use it as the measure for the entire recipe.)
- Water- 4.5 cups (Now listen up, this is math. The ratio of rice to water for this recipe is 2 : 4.5. For every 2 cups of rice, you use 4.5 cups (the same cup!) of water. Use your calculator and work your way up if you’re cooking more rice. Just make sure you do NOT add more water than the specified amount. A little less works perfectly well. For instance the specified amount for 3 cups rice is 6.75 cups of water. DO NOT add any more than 6.75 cups, instead I would add just 6.5ish cups to be safe. Too much water is what gets the rice mushy and weird. This rule holds for good quality Basmati. If you’re using regular Basmati, water exactly double the quantity of rice is enough. So, for 2 cups rice, use 4 cups water.)
- Ghee- 2 tablespoons (and a little extra for the last bits)
- Cardamom- 4
- Cloves- 4
- Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
- Bay leaf- 1
- Star anise- 1 small
- Salt to taste
- Caramelized onions- 1 medium sized onion’s worth
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves
- Cashews- 8-10
- A fork
How to go about it:
- First, wash the rice thoroughly twice in running water. Next, soak the rice in water and keep aside for 15 minutes. Keep the right quantity of water in a pot or kettle in the meantime.
- Once the soaking time is up, drain the rice rice well using a strainer. Keep aside for another 10 minutes or until the rice is nice and dry.
- Now, it’s time to cook. Keep a pot big enough to cook the rice on medium heat and add the ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add the whole spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and anise). Saute for about 30 seconds or until the flavours release into the hot ghee.
- Keep the water to boil separately. Important to have boiling water for this recipe.
- While the water boils, you add the soaked and strained rice (yes, the raw rice) to the ghee. Then you must saute the rice lightly. Make sure all grains are coated with the ghee and keep sauteing the rice till the rice grains begin to feel a little crunchy to the touch. Make sure you do this sauteing bit without using too much power because it is important not to break the grains of rice in the process. Do it lightly.
- Next, add the boiling water to the pot, salt to taste, mix it up to make sure there are no rice clumps in between. Increase the heat a slight bit more and cook the rice (with the pot uncovered) until the rice is al dente (just about 80% cooked), there is still a bit of moisture left in the pot (meaning all the water has not completely evaporated). At this point, take the pot off the heat, drizzle a couple of TEASPOONS of melted ghee to the rice and lightly stir it all up with a fork. Next, keep the pot closed with the lid and place something heavy on top of the lid. I usually put my mortar and pestle on top as weight. The rice has to sit completely undisturbed this way for 20 minutes.
- So, while the rice sits for the 20 minutes, you can caramelize your onion. Keep aside. Lightly fry the coriander leaves in a tablespoon of cooking oil or ghee and keep aside. Fry the cashews in ghee or oil and keep aside.
- Once the 20 minutes is up, stir up the rice grains (lightly again) using a fork making sure you don’t break up the grains too much. Top with the caramelized onions, cashews and coriander. Serve warm with a meat curry or vegetable curry and raita. This recipe gets easier with practice, I promise 🙂