The other day, a friend and I were discussing making rice. I get the impression that rice is often touch and go for a lot of people. They have heard lots of different versions of what works and what doesn’t work and often don’t understand why it never turns out quite right. Even on Masterchef, a cooking TV competition with super-skilled contestants, I have seen rice fail.
Because I cook it often, over the years I managed to perfect a way to make a loose, fluffy and tasty rice that doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, without thinking too much about it (even though my skills do not come close to any of the talented people that cook on TV!).
This is very useful to accompany dishes like curries and chilli con carne. It’s nothing special, it’s plain rice but it really never fails. One important aspect is the size of the pan as the larger the area in contact with heat in relation to the ‘height’ of the rice inside the pan , the quicker it will cook, the more it will stick to the bottom of the pan and the drier it will be.
You can make more interesting rice dishes using the same technique by adding spices, fresh garlic or vegetables when you fry the rice at the start and let them boil with the rice. You can also add boiling stock instead of boiling water for a flavoured rice. For coriander rice, for example, just add a sprig of coriander to the top of the rice 5 minutes before it is due to be ready and when you loosen up the rice with a fork make sure you shred the now softened coriander leaves as you move the fork and remove the stalks if you prefer (although that’s where the flavour is). The rest is the same, though. I tend to estimate 75ml of dry rice per person and always add double the volume of rice in liquid. The more people, the bigger the knob of butter needed 🙂
- 300 ml basmati rice
- 600 ml water boiled
- 2 tsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 knob butter size of a tbsp
- Salt flakes
- Place the butter and the olive oil in a medium saucepan (one that has a lid) on medium heat and boil a kettle.
- When the butter is melted, add the rice.
- Fry the rice in the butter/oil mix until the rice goes opaque and feels a bit ‘gritty’ as you stir it.
- Add the boiling water (you are essentially scalding the rice). Season well with salt – stop adding when the water begins to taste salty (don’t worry, the rice won’t be) and mix well.
- Let it boil on medium to high heat (it should be fairly tumoultuous) with the lid open until the water starts to disappear from the surface of the rice and you can see little ‘craters’ all around.
- At this point cover completely with a lid and reduce the heat to the lowest setting on your hob. Let it steam for around 10 minutes.
- After that time open the lid to see if the rice is cooked, replacing the lid quickly in case it is not cooked - you don’t want the steam to escape. If it’s cooked, remove the lid and loosen the rice with a large fork. Make sure most of the steam escapes as you do this (you don’t want the rice to continue cooking). Stop when you have loosened all the grains and got rid of most of the steam and serve.