Rice is one of the main staple food in India and forms an integral part of the diet of many. A lot of people like my dad wants rice almost every day for lunch. For him, a completely satisfying meal is the one that includes his favorite dal and rice!! Rice is used in many ways in India, as the main dish with dals/lentils or curries, as a complete meal in form of pulao/pilaf or biryani, also it is used in making fermented batter in combination with lentils for making idlli (fermented rice and lentil steamed cakes), dosa(Indian Savory Pancakes).
Making steamed rice is very easy and it is consumed in most of the households almost daily. A simple meal of any lentil and steamed rice with or without side vegetable is one of the most comforting meals for many!! If you want to know how to make perfect restaurant style steamed rice, this is the right post for you.
Steamed rice can be cooked on stove-top and in microwave. Many people are now using rice cookers and Instapots for cooking rice. On stove-top it is mainly made in two ways. One is, cooking it in boiling water and then straining the water when the rice is cooked. And the other is cooking rice covered in just enough water till the rice is soft and tender and water has absorbed all the water. This takes about 12-15 minutes. In this post, I am covering stove-top methods and microwave method to cook rice. All my rice preparations are done with Basmati Rice. I belong to rice growers have never used any other rice other than this one. So the cooking instructions basically apply to my way of cooking Basmati Rice.
I cook rice by the first method- straining the left-over rice water, this had been followed by my grandparents, mom and now I too follow the same way of making rice. Many times mom retained the water and used it for starching the cotton clothes. I am sure many of the moms from India followed the same way of starching the cotton shirts and saris. The left-over rice water is also known as Maandh in local dialect from where I belong. As a child, I often enjoyed warm maandh with little salt and black pepper. Rice water is one of the most nourishing food that is first introduced to babies since rice is a very low allergen food. For someone who is suffering from dehydration, rice water is a life saver as it rich in carbohydrates and very light on stomach. You can also add the rice water for thickening soups instead of cornflour. Many times I use rice water to make Sweet Corn Soup or my Hot and Sour Chinese soup.
For making the perfectly cooked rice using either of the ways with grains apart and not sticking to each other, it is very important to wash and rinse the rice properly and then soak it at least 15-30 mins before cooking it, this way the rice grains soak water and the outermost layer of rice which contains most of the starch is washed away making cooked rice less sticky and the cooking time is also reduced. Also, take a big pan to cook rice. If the pan is smaller, rice grains won't have enough space when cooked and you will get sticky rice.
Cooking Rice on stove-top
In a big pan take enough water and keep it for boiling. When the water starts to boil, add the soaked rice to it and give it a light stir.
Cooking Rice using the rice water straining method
Let the rice cook in water on medium flame, don't stir the rice now. After 10 minutes check the rice grains. If rice is soft and tender check the grains by pressing between the thumb and index finger, add an additional glass of cold water and switch of the flame. This way the cooking process of the grains stops and rice grains are not overcooked.
Drain the extra rice water using a strainer and leave rice covered in the strainer covered for 2-3 minutes. then lightly fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to the serving bowl or transfer to a hot case/pot so that it remains hot till serving time. My mom always used to add a dollop of ghee after transferring the rice to hot-case whenever she cooked for special occasions for guests. That way as per her the rice grains stay apart, rice doesn't get sticky, ghee imparts a unique aroma to cooked rice!!
Cooking rice using the second method where the water is absorbed in the cooking process
Take a pot, fill it with almost double the amount of water, switch on the flame. So, you are taking 1 cup rice, take 1½-2 cups of water. Keep the water to boil.
When the water just starts to boil, add rice to it and stir gently. When the steam starts forming, cover the pot and reduce the flame to lowest.
Cook covered for next 10-15 minutes. After 10 mins check for the doneness of rice by pressing 2-3 grains between index finger and thumb. Also once the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed there will be small holes on the surface of cooked rice.
When the water dries out or if the rice is cooked, take the pot off the flame. If the water dries up let the rice stands for 2-3 minutes and then fluff it gently with a fork. Keep it covered for 5 minutes and serve hot or transfer to a hot case to keep it warm/hot until the serving time. If there is little water left in pan, spread the rice on the strainer and then transfer to the serving dish or hot case/pot.
Cooking Rice in microwave
When you want to cook small amount of rice that can also be conveniently done in microwave. Cooking rice in the microwave is quite easy, take a deep microwave dish/Pyrex or Borosil bowl so that water and rice doesn't come out while boiling.
Wash and soak rice for half an hour, in a microwave safe deep dish/bowl add rice and then add water. The trick of cooking perfect rice in the microwave is the amount of water used. I add water 1? above the rice level, cook rice for 10-12 minutes on high. Covered the dish with a microwave-safe lid, leave the steam went of the lid open or leave a little space for steam to escape. Please don't close the lid lightly on the bowl as there can be an accident due to high steam pressure building up in the bowl. (will soon update the pics for the microwave method). You can add a few drops or 1/4 tsp of any flavorless oil/ghee to water while cooking rice. This way the rice won't get sticky.
What is your way of cooking rice?? Steamed rice can be enjoyed with a wide variety of curries and dals/lentils. Also make ahead steamed rice, store in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hrs or overnight and make a variety of delicious fried rice from it. Leftover rice can be added to idlli batter to get softer and fluffy idllis(steamed rice and lentil cakes) or mix with boiled potatoes, herbs like cilantro or fenugreek leaves and some chickpea flour and make fitters with it.
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