The mild taste of plain basmati rice harmonizes well with the aromatic, spicy and often rich flavours of Indian cuisine. The absorption method of cooking rice, used here is more streamlined than boiling the rice in a copious amount of water and then draining it. With the absorption method, all the water should be absorbed by the time the rice is tender. After cooking, the grains stay firm and separate and are not sticky.
If you’re using cup measurements, try the 2 cups of just boiled water to 1 cup of rice method to see how the rice fares. Otherwise, read the instructions on the packet as cooking times may vary according to the brand of basmati rice that you have brought.
Rice bought from a specialist Asian shop can be soaked for 20-30 minutes before cooking. This allows the grains to absorb water so the heat penetrates more easily and rice cooks more evenly. However, rice bought from a supermarket should be prepared according to the instructions on the packet. Rice can be cooked up to 48 hours in advance but should only be reheated once. It can be reheated over a very low heat in the same pan, covered, with 4 tablespoons water. Or cover it with foil and place it in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 10 minutes.
Rinse the rice for 30 seconds to remove any starchy residue.
Place the rice in a saucepan with the salt and oil, if using. Add 375ml (13 fl oz) of boiling water and cover the pan.
Simmer on a very low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and, with a fork, check a few of the grains to see if they’re cooked. All the water should be absorbed.
Cooled cooked rice can be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours only.
When reheating rice, warm it in a pan on a very low heat with 1 tsp butter or oil. Make sure it is piping hot before serving. Or microwave with a couple of tablespoons of water on full power for 2 minutes or until piping hot.