The Perfect Basmati Rice

April  3, 2021
17 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe is from Meera Sodha's Made in India. —Kenzi Wilbur

Test Kitchen Notes

Making a perfect pot of rice is one of those cooking skills everyone should learn, like scrambling an egg or boiling pasta. Some folks swear by their intuition, saying there’s a magic ratio of 1 cup rice to 2 cups water, always; others swear by the finger trick, where you add a desired amount of rice to the pot, then add water just until it reaches your first knuckle. Some simply use a rice-cooker, because, well, why not? But if you don’t have a rice-cooker or a non-recipe method. Though some recipes for cooking rice can sometimes be finicky, this process for basmati rice, from Meera Sodha's Made in India, is actually quite straightforward.

Sodha recommends washing the rise several times, until the water runs clear, then soaking the rice in cold water for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, you’ll boil water (1 1/2 cups per cup of rice). After the rice soaks, Sodha drains it and pops it into a heavy-bottomed pot slicked with a bit of canola oil. Coating each grain in oil before adding the boiling water helps keep each grain of rice separate, instead of clumping together—which you may want when making, say, sticky rice, but don’t want with basmati.

Make sure to turn down the heat to low after pouring in the boiling water, and no peeking for ten whole minutes… and then turn off the heat, and let it sit for another ten! Sodha recommends dotting the top of the rice with a few pats of butter before fluffing with a fork and serving. —Rebecca Firkser. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups of just-boiled water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water, until the water runs clear. Let it soak in a bowl of cold water for at least 20 minutes. Put the kettle on to boil.
  2. Put the oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on medium heat. Add the drained rice and the salt, stirring a couple of times so as to coat each grain in the oil.
  3. Pour in the boiling water and bring the rice to a fierce boil, then pop the lid on and turn the heat down to a simmer. Leave to cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid.
  4. If you have a clear lid, you'll see craters start to form in the rice where the water is bubbling through. Over time the number of bubbles will reduce, which is a sign that the water is being absorbed. If you're worried about there not being enough water, you can tip the pan. If the rice slides, you will know there's still water left on the bottom.
  5. When the 10 minutes is up, turn the heat off and let the rice and let the rice rest for a further 10 minutes. Just before serving, dot the rice with a couple teaspoons of butter if you like, and gently fluff it up it up with a fork.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kellia Brinson
    Kellia Brinson
  • Crystal
  • Al Olga Garnica
    Al Olga Garnica
  • Melissa Ostlund Helmink
    Melissa Ostlund Helmink
  • Kaloni Udall
    Kaloni Udall

17 Reviews

Linda D. November 2, 2023
Comes out perfect every time1 Thank you!
Kellia B. July 24, 2020
This really does make perfect basmati rice without fail. Highly recommend! (especially as someone who is a good cook, but for some reason struggles with rice)
Crystal June 4, 2020
Failproof recipe for a perfect stovetop basmati every time! Thank you!
Flew May 30, 2020
Yes, yes, yes! After 2 years of failed attempts and failed recipes to make the perfect basmati rice, I finally made the perfect basmati rice with this recipe. It was fluffy and flavorful and smelled so good cooking. The grains were a perfect dryness and not mushy. My husband tasted it and said “you did it!” I highly recommend this recipe. I used 2 tablespoon of unsalted butter instead of the canola oil to make it more flavorful. Also I used a 12 inch non stick frying pan with a glass lid and it worked well.
Flew May 29, 2020
Yes, yes, yes! After 2 years of failed attempts to make the perfect basmati rice, I finally made the perfect basmati rice with this recipe. My husbands said to me “you got it!” It was fluffy, had lots of favor and smelled so good. I highly recommend this recipe. I think using a non stick frying pan with a glass lid was the key to the perfect rice. I think more surface to boil off the water? I also used unsalted butter instead of the canola oil for extra favor.
Al O. May 18, 2020
This recipe is amazing. My wife has been having trouble getting used to the basmati rice. After reviewing several different recipes I settled on this one and it has been perfect time after time. Now I have earned the rice making job, but I don’t mind as I know that it will turn out perfect each time. I have doubled and tripled the recipe with the same perfect results. Thank you!
tessjoangrant00 July 15, 2020
Hi! I was wondering, when you double and triple the recipe, do you also double and triple the cooking time and setting time? Making a meal for my large family and want to get it just right. Thank you so much!
Soupy September 19, 2021
Hi Tess, no do not change the time no matter how rice you make. just ensure the pot/pan you cook it in is large enough. Good luck!

LaurenceWJames April 9, 2020
a wonderfully simple recipe which suited me perfectly - i used New Zealand salted butter and refrigerated the rice in water for you he half hour. a truly wonderful recipe
Melissa O. January 24, 2020
Truly the perfect rice! So yummy. I will never cook basmati any other way!
Kaloni U. December 31, 2019
PERFECT RECIPE! I NEVER leave reviews. I don’t think I ever have. But I tripled this recipe. Followed it exactly and it is perfect. Light and fluffy. I make Indian curry often and never make the rice perfect. Always too wet. Followed this and I even tripled it and it was successful.
Russ L. November 5, 2019
This is what I did. I used my rice make so I used the measuring cup that came with it to measure out the rice. I rinsed the rice until the water came out clear. Then I soaked the rice in water for 30 minutes. Then I drained it and added it to my rice maker. Then I drizzled some olive oil over the top, added a pinch of salt and stirred it. Then added water to the correct line for my rice maker. Turned it on, set it to white rice. WOW, this was the best basmati ever! I haven't liked it before, but this was light, fluffy, and the flavor was great! Thank you for teaching me how to correctly cook basmati!
JustMegan October 7, 2019
I made this basmati rice recipe just last week to accompany some delicious butternut squash curry. My husband is Indian, and cares quite deeply about his basmati rice and how it's prepared. This recipe turned out perfectly cooked basmati rice. I opted to dot the top with butter (which my husband informed me was mostly a North Indian thing) but it had me eating the rice straight from the pot after we finished all our curry. Will definitely be making it this way again!
LaurenceWJames April 9, 2020
i’ll be making more as soon as we run out of what i made today
Kelly W. June 8, 2019
Mine came out not cooked and still half covered in water, what did i do wrong??
LaurenceWJames April 9, 2020
i have no business replying to someone having difficulty with a recipe. All i can tell you us it worked for me and i was very precise. I used my iPhone timer down to the second. I added the New Zealand salted butter ( i’m based in Vietnam) and it made for the most sublime basmati rice dish
Crystal June 4, 2020
It might be that you did not have the initial boil too high or went too low with the heat after the first boil.