Perfectly fluffy rice guaranteed every time. Just follow the simple absorption method outlined here for tender and separated grains. Includes portion chart.
Perfectly cooked long-grain rice should be dry and light, with a tender but chewy texture. If you undercook rice, then you end up with indigestible dry bullets. If you overcook rice, then you end up with unpalatable wet mush. Boiling rice can lead to the same sort of claggy texture you get from overcooking, as the grains are prone to break down into a starchy paste when subjected to aggressive heat. The most popular way of cooking long-grain rice around the world is the absorption method, which uses a more gentler form of heat transfer. Rather than adding an excess of cooking liquid and draining it off at the end, only the bare minimum of liquid needed to cook the rice is added. At the end of cooking, all of the liquid will have been absorbed by the plump and tender grains.
The absorption method takes the guesswork out of cooking perfect rice every time by specifying the exact quantity of water to use, relative to the quantity of rice. This ratio is determined by the amount of water that can be absorbed by the rice during cooking. This does mean that the exact ratio will differ according to the variety of rice used, and even according to the brand, or the age of the rice. The first thing to say is that you should disregard the cooking instructions on the packet. Experiment by making a few batches, until you find the ratio that works best for your favoured rice, your heat source and your cooking pot – and then be consistent, and always use the same ingredients and equipment.
For the type of white basmati rice available in Britain, I have found that a ratio of 1 part rice : 1.33 parts water works perfectly when measuring by volume (i.e. 1 cup of rice to 1 1/3 cups of water). This translates into 1 part rice : 1.6 parts water when measuring by weight (i.e. 100g of rice to 160ml of water). With enough practice, you can dispense with measuring cups or scales altogether and use your hands instead. For example, you will learn that you need to add so many handfuls of rice to the pan, and then cover with enough water to come a finger joint’s length above the rice.
Weight (UK grams)
Volume (US cups)
|1 person||3/8 cup||1/2 cup|
|2 people||3/4 cup||1 cup|
|3 people||1 1/8 cups||1 1/2 cups|
|4 people||1 1/2 cups||2 cups|
|5 people||1 7/8 cups||2 1/2 cups|
|6 people||2 1/4 cups||2 1/2 cups|
|7 people||2 5/8 cups||3 1/2 cups|
|8 people||3 cups||4 cup|
Tips & Tricks
- Do not stir the during cooking – this releases starch, which results in gluey rice
- Do not remove the lid during cooking – this allows the steam to escape, which slows the cooking time
- Use a transparent pan lid – you can check how much water is left simply by tilting the pan and seeing how much water pools at the side
- Leave to rest covered with a tea towel – this dries the rice by absorbing the steam, and stopping the condensation from dripping back onto the rice
- Fluff with a fork – the tines separate the grains without mashing them
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) long grain white rice
- 2 cups (480ml) water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- To remove impurities from the milling process, wash the rice. Place it in a sieve and rinse in several changes of cold water until the water runs almost clear. This step is not necessary for packaged rice from British supermarkets, as this has already been thoroughly washed.
- Combine the rice, water and salt in a saucepan. Give the whole lot a good stir, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Heat over a high heat and bring to the boil – about 5-6 minutes. Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Leave to cook, undisturbed, until all the water has been absorbed – about 13-15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Remove the lid and cover quickly with a clean tea towel. Place the lid back on top and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes.
- Fluff up the rice grains with a fork and serve.