Remember really gluggy rice? Yes, those were the days. Certainly in Australia, our parents mostly did not know how to cook rice. Well cooked rice makes a meal, and poorly cooked rice sure does spoil it. I took me a long time to be able to cook rice consistently well. I used to put it into buckets of boiling water, cook it rapidly, strain it when done and then hope for the best. Sound familiar?
These days, rice cookers take any guess work out of the process, and they are great. BUT I still like the art of the stovetop method when I have the time. It is not hard at all. At one time someone I worked with taught me the most amazing foolproof method – once you have mastered it you will never have gluggy rice again. I have forgotten the name of the person but not the method for cooking rice. Hmmm. I wonder where my priorities lie?
Notes on the recipe
The method is most commonly called the absorption method. Strangely named as all methods involve absorption of water. However, in this method, the precise amount of liquid is added to the rice – so no straining or having to add more water as the rice boils dry.
Once rice was full of nasties – stones, dirt, gravel, and chaff. These days it is (mostly) free of these additions. Although the other day I found a stone in some Indian Basmati.
However, it is still a good idea to wash your rice before you cook it. Rinsing washes off loose starch, making the rice less sticky. I don’t always do it, but it is a good idea to lose some of that starch and any dust still resident on the grains.
Whether you soak rice depends on time and tradition.
I don’t always do it, but it does give a better result. The reasons for soaking rice are to shorten the cooking time (although the soaking takes longer than the cooking) and to allow for maximum expansion of long-grain rice, particularly Basmati. If you want to soak, then 30 minutes is normal, but you can leave it for much longer if that is more convenient for you.
[Update: see a subsequent post on Steamy, Buttery Rice that does require soaking for 30 minutes. These days I do like to soak a little, I think it improves the end result.]
You do need a good sized sturdy pot with a tight fitting lid for this method. The method traps the steam inside the pot, and this completes the cooking of the rice. The size of the pot allows the steam to accumulate above the rice, so don’t use one that will cramp the rice. Give it plenty of space. If your lid fits loosely, put a clean kitchen cloth between the lid and the pot. (Be sure to fold it over onto the pot so it doesn’t burn.) The cloth also absorbs the water that would normally condense on the inside of the lid and fall back down into the rice – you get a drier, fluffier rice.
How Much Water?
Different rices absorb different amounts of water. You will have to experiment a bit to find the right ratio of rice and water for the particular rice that you use. My basmati rice takes 1.5 times the amount of rice in water. You may find that your rice takes a little more or a little less.
Don’t forget that cooking rice in a rice cooker requires less water than cooking rice in a pot on the stove. Follow your rice cooker’s instructions if using a rice cooker.
Short, Medium and Long Grain Rices
These images show you the difference between short, medium and long grain rice.
Large, sturdy pan with tight fitting lid
1 cup rice
1 Tblspn oil or ghee
1.5 – 2 cups boiling water
Celtic sea salt
Different rices absorb different amounts of water. Play around with the amount of water until you find the right that you like best for the type of rice that you use.
For every cup of rice, use 1.5 to 2 cups of water (if the rice is washed first use 1 – 1.5 cups). In general, use the larger amount for long-grain rice, the lesser for medium and short. More water will give you softer, stickier rice—great for stir-fries. Less water will keep the grains more separate and result in firmer rice, a good style for rice salads and curries.
Put the water on to boil in your kettle.
Heat the oil or ghee in a saucepan that has a tight fitting lid. Add the rice and stir until it is glazed with the oil or ghee. It makes a nice cracking sound and takes about 1 minute. The oil helps to keep the grains separate.
Add the boiling water, quickly stir and add salt to taste.
Turn the heat to medium, place the lid on the pot and allow to cook for at least 5- 7 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID FROM THE SAUCEPAN.
Turn the heat off but leave the pot on the stove. Let it sit undisturbed for at least 12 and up to 20 minutes. It won’t overcook, and sometimes you need the extra time to prepare the remainder of the meal.
Add 0.5 tspn turmeric powder to the rice before adding the water, to give a nicely flavoured, yellow rice.
OR after cooking stir through up to half a cup of lemon juice and some black poppy seeds that have been cracked (fried and allowed to pop) in some hot ghee. YUM.
OR add some curry leaves while frying the rice (curry leaves need oil to release their flavour) for an added Indian note to the rice.
OR boil the water for the rice in a saucepan with several strands of saffron.
Play. Enjoy. Yum.
From The Rice Series
- A Motherly Kitchadi
- A Parsi Kitchadi
- Balinese Coconut Rice
- Bengali Rice Kheer – Chaler Payesh
- Caramelised Pumpkin Risotto
- Cauliflower, Mung Bean and Broken Wheat Kitchadi
- Cracked Wheat Kitchadi
- Go Spanish – Tomato Paella
- Goan Bisibelebhath
- How to Cook Rice
- Kitchadi Patties
- Mango Rice
- Masala Lemon or Lime Rice (Masala Elumichai Sadham)
- Peppered Rice
- Pomodori con Riso – Tomatoes stuffed with Rice
- Quick Perfect Vegetable Rice – Quick Meal Dish
- Red Rice Congee with Adzuki Beans
- Rice Quick Meal Dish
- Risotto Basics 101
- Rizogalo – Greek Rice Pudding
- Rosa Matta Rice
- Spice Laden Kitchadi
- Steamed Buttery Kitchadi
- Steamy Buttery Rice
- Sweet Mung Dal Kitchadi
- Tamarind Rice (Puliyodharai Saadham)
- Tim’s Thermos Kitchari
- Two Rice Puddings
- Urad Dal Garlic Rice
- Urad Red Rice Kitchadee
- Ven Pongal