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How to cook fluffy, perfectly cooked, Basmati Rice, just like they do in India! Finished with an optional “tempering oil” this rice is nothing short of delicious! Fast, easy and vegan-adaptable. Video!
While in India, one simple thing I fell in love with was the basmati rice. So light, so fluffy and so full of flavor! I couldn’t believe that something so basic as cooking rice, had escaped me for so long!
Why I love this Basmati Rice Recipe
While staying in a little village outside of Jaipur, I discovered the secret of cooking the fluffiest basmati rice from our cook at a beautiful homestay.
He showed us that boiling the rice in salted water like you would pasta, then draining it, allowed most of the starch to be removed from the rice and this was the secret to fluffy rice.
This simple technique is also faster and easier, the rice cooks faster, and no measuring required!
Perfect Basmati Rice | 60-sec video
Ingredients in Basmati Rice
- Basmati rice- white or brown
- Optional: Tempering Oil
How to make the BEST Basmati Rice
- Wash the rice- rinsing quickly in running water. You’ll need a cup of rice.
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add salt, and cook the rice, like you would pasta, no need to cover the pot, turning the heat down to a gentle simmer.
- Drain the rice.
- Let the rice sit in the strainer for 5 minutes, then fluff!
- Top with the optional Tempering Oil
- Get ready for perfect basmati rice, perfect every time.
What is Tempering oil?
Tempering oil, called Tadka, is made by sizzling whole spices in ghee, to unlock and enhance their flavor and fragrance. It can be used in the initial stages of cooking to build flavor in Indian dishes, or used to finish a dish, spooning it overtop adding a beautiful aroma.
The types of spices will vary, depending on the region in India. The spices may also be medicinal. For example, black mustard seeds are often added to dal- to help with the digestion of legumes.
How to make Tempering Oil
- Heat ghee (or coconut oil but ghee really does have better flavor) over medium-high heat, and toss in cumin seeds, mustard seeds and optional curry leaves (or bay leaves), toasting all about 30 seconds or until the seeds begin to pop.
- Remove from heat.
- Spoon the flavorful tempering oil over the fluffy basmati rice and serve immediately. Inhale the beautiful aroma!
NOTE: The curry leaves will elevate this– and I encourage you to seek them out. Often they can be found at Asian markets and when I find them either fresh or frozen, I make a point of buying extra and freezing, so to always have them on hand.
What is Basmati Rice?
Basmati rice is long-grained rice that grows in the foothills of the Himalayas in India and Pakistan. It has a nutty floral flavor. Tradionally, Basmati rice is white, but recently, more brown rice varieties are being brought to grocery stores.
Is Basmati Rice healthier than white rice?
Both white and brown basmati rice are nutritious -but brown basmati rice contains more fiber, minerals and vitamins and is lower on the glycemic index.
But for some people, white rice, even though it is considered more “processed” is easier to digest, because the hull, bran and germ are removed ( and some people are sensitive to these). So it really just depends, if you digest brown rice without any problem, then brown rice may be “healthier” for you.
Should I rinse basmati rice?
Giving basmati rice a quick rinse is always a good idea to remove any impurities- but no need to rinse until water runs clear. Cooking it this way, and draining the water will also remove impurities.
More Recipes you may like:
- Indian Lemon Rice
- Forbidden Black Rice: Incredible Benefits & Easy Recipes
- Vegetarian Biryani
- Coconut Rice Bowl with Spring Veggies & Mint
- Golden Cauliflower Dal w/ Red Lentils, Coconut and Spinach
- Emerald Dal
- Aloo Gobi (Indian-Spiced Potatoes & Cauliflower)
- Comforting Lentil Dal with Sweet Potatoes
- Chana Masala (Instant Pot or Stovetop)
Hope you are having a beautiful week!
Perfect Basmati Rice
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- Category: side dish, grain, rice
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegetarian
How to cook fluffy, perfectly cooked Basmati Rice, just like they do in India! Finished with an optional- tempering oil this rice is nothing short of delicious! Fast, easy and vegan-adaptable.
- 7–8 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed.
Indian Tempering Oil:
- 2–3 tablespoons ghee (or sub coconut oil)
- 1/2– 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/2– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2– 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- pinch salt
- 8– 10 curry leaves ( or use 2–3 bay leaves)
Middle Eastern Version:
- 2–3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
- one smashed garlic clove ( optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 4 bay leaves
- fresh parsley and lemon zest (or sumac)
- Bring water and salt to a boil.
- Add rice and simmer gently at a low boil, uncovered over medium heat until rice is just perfectly tender- check at 8-10 minutes, and continue cooking if need be. Keep in mind brown rice will take longer.
- Drain, and let stand over a strainer for 5 minutes.
- Feel free to place it back in the pot and cover until ready to serve.
- Optional Indian Tempering oil: Heat ghee over medium heat. Add seeds, salt and leaves, and saute until seeds begin to crackle- about 30-60 seconds. Turn heat off.
- Place rice in a serving dish and spoon tempering oil over top.
- Serve immediately!
Leftovers keep 4-5 days in the fridge (or freeze) and can be reheated.
To make Middle Eastern Version, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the smashed garlic clove and swirl until fragrant, add cumin and coriander seeds and a couple bay leaves. Pour the tempered oil over the rice ( discarding garlic) and garnish with some torn parsley leaves and an optional light sprinkling of sumac or lemon zest.
The rice is best, made right before serving. Sometimes I’ll have the pot of salted boiling water all ready to go, as well as the tempering oil. Then all I have to do is boil the rice right before dinner time.
If doubling the recipe, you probably only need 10-12 cups water.
- Serving Size: ¾ cup ( including the ghee tempering oil)
- Calories: 150
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 111.6 mg
- Fat: 4.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 24.2 g
- Fiber: 1.1 g
- Protein: 2.5 g
- Cholesterol: 10.2 mg
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OMG!! THANK YOU SYLVIA!!! I can now make rice!!! Hahaha! It has been the bain of my cooking experience not to have ever made successful, edible rice…until NOW! 😅 Boiling rice like pasta was the key!!! It only took 55-odd years!!! Aaagh! Thank you! I will spread the rice gospel(!) to my friends who have also struggled with this basic but otherwise can cook up a tasty spicy feast!
Haha! thanks Mandy!
I can cook many things, complex ones too but RICE has evaded me! Why? Why?? It NEVER once has worked out for me. Your recipe gives me HOPE!!! It makes so much sense. Boil it like pasta! I am making this today and have such a positive feeling after reading your post and recipe! Thank you!!!!
Hi Mandy- give it a go and let us know what you think!
I used green lentils – this was fabulous! I just wish I made naan. The ghee makes all the difference.
It really does Laura!
This is now my go-to method for cooking my basmati rice. I have made it this way several times, and it has come out perfectly each time. I have been using saffron and cardamom in the tempering oil and it is so good.
Yum- love that Lynn! I will have to try!
I should clarify that I used cardamom pods, not ground cardamom.
Sounds a great recipe. I live in Spain and will be trying it, but why not use Spanish (Valencian) Bomba rice rather than Basmati – it is meant to be a Spanish dish after all?
You must be thinning of a different recipe- this on is for Indian Basmati Rice. 🙂
AWESOME rice! My favorite part is that basically no measuring is required 🙂
I made it a couple of times now and I filled the pot halfway with salted water and put a couple of cups of rice in when it was boiling. I did 8 minutes with a rolling boil and 5 minutes in the strainer. It was fluffy and perfect.
The tempering oil is awesome too. I didn’t have ghee but I used butter and EVOO together with the seeds and it was great. Instead of putting it on top I just mixed it in with the pot of rice after the rice was done and strained. Yummy. I made this with the Chana Masala which I had never made before but it was soooo good. It was equally delicious as a lunch the next day 🙂
This site is fantastic, from the recipes to the beautiful food photography and the helpful videos. The recipes are truly delicious, and healthy!
thanks so much Sandy! Appreciate this!
I’ll never cook rice any other way again. It’s light, it’s fluffy, it’s perfect!!!
I made this version with similar seasonings. I also made just a butter rice version, adding soft butter after draining the rice well.
Yum, Yum, Yummy!!! 😋🤤
Perfect, glad this worked for you!
Can you use this recipe for brown rice and just increase the cooking time?
Hi Michael it will work fine!
My mom would wash rice, let it soak and then cook it. Now here in US, I don’t do the soaking. I simply add some oil in a pot, add basmati rice. Add 2 & 1/2 times to bit more water or chicken stock. Come to boil, lower heat to lowest, cover and don’t touch for next 15mins or so. Fluffy rice every time. Just have to make sure the heat is low, too much steam coming out, move the pot a little away from the burner.
Your way is how my mom would make it too. Yup, also fluffy and delicious. 🙂
This has been a game changer! Perfect every time. I had been using olive oil for the tempering. Used ghee and it seemed less flavorful. Will give it another go.
This is an amazing way to cook rice, super simple, thank you! It worked perfectly and is my new way of cooking rice! Brilliant! Thank you for sharing!
this was restaurant delicious, super amazing. One note though…the ratio of water to rice in the recipe seems off….7-8 cups of water per 1 cup of rice? I think I did 1 water 1 rice. Tempering oil mix is a revelation. Thank you
Essentially you are boiling rice like pasta- so lots of water, to remove starch, then drain.
This worked a treat and very happy with the results.
Previously I used to warm some oil in my saucepan and added a heaped teaspoon of Panch Phoran, then added the rice and water using the absorption method but found this did not always work and rice could be stodgy.
Your method has worked every time, thank you so much.
Glad it is working for you Wendy!
Why has this secret been kept from me for so long? This is the best, easiest rice I have ever made!
Oh my God !
So what I was searching for,
the rice magic and secrets I was seeking all along…. is right here !!
Thank you so much.
Rushing to try this for the Indian Fried Rice recipe that you shared.
Cannot wait to do this, shall share updates on how it all turns out.
Thank you !!
Awwww, thanks and glad you enjoyed!
I love this method and always use it now. I searched for it after visiting the Maldives and tasting perfect basmati rice that was prepared by a Sri Lankan chef. I noticed he boiled it in lots of water. So fluffy! Thank you for posting. I look forward to trying it with the tempering oils.
Thanks Linda! Let me know what you think!
I finally took the plunge last night and made my basmati this way. Holy cow! It was exactly as advertised and possibly even better! (Especially if you order your basmati from a specialty Indian store – the varieties are amazing and there are some that have crazy long grains, which really stand out when cooked this way.) I will NEVER cook rice the same way again! For my tempering oil I used ghee with cumin seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, crushed green cardamom pods (that I fished out before mixing), and salt. I also steeped a generous pinch of saffron in ~2T of warm milk while everything was cooking and added that to the rice at the last minute. Maybe frozen peas next time as well. Best rice ever!
Love it Ali, sounds perfect!
Wow, I made the plain version tonight and was super skeptical. I am now a believer! I didn’t time it, I just went by doneness. I can’t believe how beautiful and fluffy it came out!
I know- I was also surprised the first time I made this. So fast too!