Basmati Rice

how hard can it be?

A recipe for rice? C’mon! How hard can it be?


So, here’s my little rant about rice. Minute rice is convenient, but no one is going to say it is amazing rice. Lots of places have rice dishes, but most of the time the rice is so soggy that it has lost all texture. But, the one place I know will always have amazing rice - an Indian restaurant! Think about it - their rice can usually stand alone as a flavorful part of the meal, and that’s AFTER considering that it is usually topped by some amazingly flavorful curry like chicken tikka masala. I like the recipe from Bon Appétit.

Chicken Tikka Masala

How do they do it? I have no idea! But, here’s what I’ve been using, and I think you’ll like it just the same.


  • 2 cups basmati rice (I like Royal brand)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cups water or unsalted chicken stock (or a combination of the two, see below)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (cilantro, green onions, whatever is thematically appropriate)


  • large pot or wok with a lid (I typically use a wok for rice)
  • fine mesh strainer


  1. Place rice in fine mesh strainer, and rinse under running water for a couple minutes, until the water runs mostly clear. You can also rinse it in a bowl, changing the water several times until it stays mostly clear.
  2. In a large pot or wok, melt the butter, then add the rice
  3. Stirring very often, toast the rice in the butter. You can tell it is done when most of the moisture is gone and about half of the rice grains appear translucent while the other half feel more opaque.
  4. Add water or chicken stock and salt (usually 2-3 tsp salt is enough). I use water for lighter, fluffier rice with a neutral flavor, for thinks such as curries and stir-fry. Chicken stock is great for heartier rice dishes such as jambalaya and red beans and rice.
  5. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil. Follow the instructions on the package to cook the rice. Generally 10-12 minutes on heat until most of the moisture is gone, then remove from heat and let sit with the lid on until done. Avoid the temptation to stir at this point!
  6. Once the rice is fully cooked, fluff with a fork, then squeeze the lemon or lime over the rice, stirring to evenly distribute the flavor. I find that this gives my rice just a hint of acid, making it even more tasty. Obviously lemon works in most applications, but lime is appropriate for Mexican cuisine.
  7. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve!