Rice is one of the world’s staple foods, but it can be surprisingly tricky to cook. We’ve all ended up with crunchy, undercooked rice, or a pot that’s starchy, mushy and overcooked at some point. So how can you guarantee to get it perfect? These steps will work with any of the longer-grain rice family – including jasmine, basmati and long-grain rice – and will ensure fuss-free, fluffy grains of rice, every time.
How to cook rice perfectly
1. Weigh accurately
The rule of thumb when cooking longer-grain rice is to use exactly twice the weight of water to weight of rice (so, for 300g of rice, use 600ml of water). Use too little water and the rice may be undercooked and have caught on the bottom of the pan. Too much and the rice will be waterlogged. Portion-wise, if the rice is accompanying a curry, 50g (raw weight) per person is sufficient. Or, for a main meal, such as the pilaf in this recipe, 75-100g is enough, depending on how many other ingredients are added.
2. Wash the rice
It might be tempting to skip this step but washing rice before cooking removes excess starch. If the rice isn’t washed, the starch is released into the water as it cooks and congeals, clumping the grains together. Tip the weighed rice into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Use your hand to move the grains around so the water becomes cloudy. Drain, refill and keep repeating until the water is clear, then drain really well.
3. Heat and timing
Heat the rice and water together on a high heat until bubbling, then let it boil furiously for 1 minute – this ensures the water and rice are both hot enough to generate steam. Put some foil over the pan, followed by the lid, then turn the heat down and let it simmer gently for 10 minutes. This steaming lets the rice absorb any remaining water without catching on the bottom of the pan.
4. Fork it
If there is any water left after 10 minutes of gently simmering (carefully tip the pan to check), return the pan to a low heat with the lid on for 2 minutes and check again. Repeat until all the water has been absorbed. Then remove from the heat and leave for another 10 minutes, lid on, for the final steam. After the final 10-minute steam the rice will be ready to serve. Use a fork to gently fluff the grains. (Remember, it doesn’t matter how much rice you are cooking, as long as you use a deep lidded pan and follow the 1:10:10 rule when it comes to timings.)