A 'just-right' rice recipe
Do you get frustrated by rice that never comes out right, no matter what you do? I used to, as well... but not anymore
I absolutely love rice; probably a bit too much. But think about it – it can make or break some dishes. You wouldn't, for instance, have spaghetti with a curry or chilli con carne – that just sounds ghastly. You can do wonders with rice. But cooking it on the hob using a pan and getting it 'just right' is a whole can of worms.
Granted, there are rice cookers these days which ensure your rice comes out lovely – but you could argue that using a rice cooker is kind of cheating. You could also cook rice using a Pyrex dish with a lid and throw it in the microwave, but again, that's a bit 'off-piste'. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, in that if it's not cooked in a pan and on the hob, it's not proper rice.
It took me quite a while to nail down a recipe for rice that could be tried, tested and shared. There are three main rules when it comes to cooking rice that I follow closely:
1) You MUST wash it until all the starch is gone.
2) Use basmati rice.
3) Keep the lid on until the very end.
Please feel free to adapt this recipe. Adding peas, vegetables (chopped small) or spices to jazz it up a bit is great, as long as you follow the rice to water ratio and cooking method closely. So here goes...
- *Always use this ratio: 1 : 2.2 / cups of rice : cups of water*
- 2 cups of high quality Basmati rice
- 4.4 cups of boiling water
- 3 cloves of garlic (optional, but recommended)
- 2 tbsp oil (recommended: olive, sunflower or vegetable)
- The preparation is key to this recipe:
- Pour the cups of rice carefully into a sieve.
- Keep a steady flow of cold water onto the rice and keep shaking the sieve from side to side with one hand. Using your other hand, let the starchy water run from underneath the sieve through your hand. You are looking for the point at which the water coming out of the rice looks clear.
- Once the water is clear, switch off the tap and let the rice dry completely while keeping it in the sieve. This is the longest part of the preparation.
- Once the rice is dry, move on to the next part.
- Hopefully by now, the rice is dry.
- Crush and finely chop the cloves of garlic (optional).
- Heat the oil on a medium heat. It's important to use a wider pan, so while your bigger pan might seem too big, it's important that the rice has enough width within the pan to cook.
- Shallow fry the garlic for 1 minute until it's nice and golden.
- Immediately add the rice to the pan and stir, keeping it on medium to medium-high heat.
- Keep on occasionally stirring for about 3 minutes.
- Add salt over the rice. How much is entirely up to you, but bear in mind that rice requires a bit more salt than most foods.
- Add the boiling water to the rice. Remember to use the 1 : 2.2 rice to water ratio.
- Stir a couple of times to ensure the rice is nicely mixed into the water. Now turn the heat up to high.
- Once the water begins to boil, place the lid onto the pan and ensure it is sealed tight. There should be no gaps with air escaping.
- Now, turn the heat immediately right down to the lowest setting. I recommend moving the pan to your smallest hob ring.
- Leave to cook untouched for a MINIMUM of 15 minutes BEFORE checking. I have timed my batches of rice and it has taken approximately 18 minutes. To check if cooked, gently put a fork through the middle and feel the bottom. When you bring the fork back up, try the rice. If it requires a little more time, pop the lid back on and leave for another 1-2 minutes maximum.
It's important to carefully follow the measurements and cooking steps. Adding more water to the rice mid-cook will compromise the entire batch. It's also important to leave the lid on until 15 minutes into the cooking time at the very, VERY earliest. Also, whatever you do, DO NOT add water if the rice is just a tad underdone by 18 mins. The rice holds a lot of moisture, you just need to pop the lid back on for another minute or two.
Marcel Da Silva Brito