How to Cook Rice

basmati rice

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The Importance of Rice
Types of Rice
What is Threshing?
What Is Milled Rice?
What is Unmilled Rice?
What is Brown Rice?
What is White Rice?
What is Basmati Rice?
What is Pudding Rice?
What is Sticky (Glutinous) Rice?
What is Red Rice?
What is Black Rice?
Ways to Cook Rice
Preparing to Cook Rice
Tip for Cooking Rice
How Much Rice Should Be Cooked For 4 People?
How to Cook White Basmati Rice by Boiling
How to Cook White Rice by Boiling
How to Cook White Basmati Rice by Absorption Method
How to Cook White Rice by Absorption Method
How to Steam White Rice
How to Microwave White Rice
How to Cook Pudding Rice
How to Cook Sticky (Glutinous) Rice
How to Cook Red Rice
How to Cook Black Rice
Cooking Rice Summary

The Importance of Rice

Rice has been eaten by people for thousands of years and today there is something like 40,000 different varieties of rice. Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population and bigger and better varieties of rice are continually being developed to feed this huge number of people.

Rice originally came from South East Asia and today rice is grown around the world. The best temperature range for growing rice is between 20⁰C and 30⁰C (68⁰F and 86⁰F).

The main rice producing countries are China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Other large rice eating countries include Japan, Brazil, Egypt and USA. In Europe, rice is successfully grown in Spain and Italy.

Types of Rice

There are 3 different rice grain types and these are long-grain, medium-grain and short-grain. Long-grain and medium-grain rice tends to be made into savoury dishes (such as curries) while short-grain rice is more often than not made into desserts. The grains in long-grain rice separate from each other while being cooked. Short-grain rice readily absorbs liquid while being cooked.

There are a few types of rice that can be easily be found in supermarkets and health food shops and these include white rice (which includes basmati rice), brown rice, red rice, black rice. In these basic types there are sub-types such as pudding rice and sticky (glutinous) rice.

And it would not be the 21st century without organic rice being available as well as non-organic rice.

White rice (including basmati rice) is commonly used in the UK but brown rice is gradually becoming more popular because of the health benefits of eating brown rice. Almost all supermarkets and grocery shops sell white and brown rice.

It would be fair to say that there is a confusing range of rice types.

What is Threshing?

Originally, threshing was the process where the harvested rice is manually hit repeatedly with a flail so that the rice grains are separated from the outer skin. Various other ways of doing this were devised because manual threshing is so time consuming. The process has become more automated in modern times and nowadays most white rice has been produced by milling rather by threshing.

What Is Milled Rice?

Milling is the process where rollers rub away the outer skin to leave white rice grains. Milled brown rice becomes white rice.

What is Unmilled Rice?

Unmilled rice is where the rice grains are left with their outer skin (manually threshing rice also removes the outer skin but most modern rice production uses milling to remove the outer skin). Unmilled rice is more nutritious than milled rice (because the nutritious outer skin is discarded) and also takes longer to cook than milled rice.

What is Brown Rice?

Brown rice is rice that is unmilled (and not threshed). This means that the outer covering of the grain is retained. Brown rice can be long-grain, medium-grain or short-grain.

What is White Rice?

White rice is simply brown rice that has been milled (or threshed) where the covering husk has been removed. White rice can be long-grain, medium-grain or short-grain.

What is Basmati Rice?

Basmati is a long-grain rice that is grown in Punjab, north India and Pakistan. Basmati rice is revered for its aromatic taste. Basmati rice is usually white rice but can be brown rice, depending on whether the husk has been removed.

What is Pudding Rice?

Pudding rice is a style of short-grain white rice that is sold in the UK to be used in desserts (such as rice pudding). The grains are almost round in shape and are a bit shiny. Pudding rice is rarely cooked by itself and is often cooked with a mixture of milk and sugar (as well as other ingredients), rather than being cooked in water.

What is Sticky (Glutinous) Rice?

Sticky rice is a type of rice where one of the two rice starches is missing. Rice usually has two types of starch and the missing starch type (amylose) causes the cooked rice to be sticky. The countries which widely use sticky rice are Thailand, China and Japan.

What is Red Rice?

Red rice is a short-grained rice that still has its husk (it is not milled) and is coloured red. Red rice is usually sticky. Cooked red rice is chewy and nutritious.

What is Black Rice?

Black rice is a short-grained that still has its husk (it is not milled) and is coloured black. Black rice has a mild nutty taste, is usually sticky and used in desserts. Black rice changes its colour to deep purple when it is being cooked.

Ways to Cook Rice

There are several methods used to cook rice and these include boiling, absorption, steaming and microwaving. Rice can also be sold as a convenience food where precooked rice is put into a saucepan (or microwave) and simply heated up (these are expensive ways to buy rice but can be useful if you are in a hurry to make a meal).

In addition, you could use a rice cooker to cook rice. A rice cooker uses a variation of the steam (absorption) method.

Preparing to Cook Rice

Rinsing the rice involves washing the rice under running water with the usual way to do this is to put the rice into a sieve (or a colander that has small holes) and then rinsing the rice with cold water, from a tap, until the water runs clear and then leaving the rice for a few minutes so that the water completely drains away.

Soaking the rice is a simple as it sounds and is where you put the rice into a bowl (or saucepan), add cold water and then leave the rice to soak for a time before draining away the water. The amount of water is not really important as long as the rice is completely covered in water – it is OK to have the rice at least 2.5cm (1 inch) below the top of the water.

Tip for Cooking Rice

You will cook your rice on a stove top (electric or gas), on a barbecue or over a real flame. Bear in mind that the cooking temperatures may vary from day to day so you need to decide if the cooked rice is as you want it and adjust the cooking time if necessary.

How Much Rice Should Be Cooked For 4 People?

For the average European or North American person, one cup of uncooked rice (200g or 7oz) should be enough. The weight of rice roughly doubles during the cooking as the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

How to Cook White Basmati Rice by Boiling

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Soak the rice for 30 minutes then drain.

Put the rice into a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.

Bring to the boil and gently boil until the rice is soft and how you like it (about 20 minutes), gently stirring now and again.

Tip the rice into a large sieve or colander (with holes too small for the rice to slip through) and rinse with hot water.

Gently fluff up the rice with a fork and serve immediately (do not let the rice sit because it keeps cooking from its own heat and will become soggy).

How to Cook White Rice by Boiling

Follow the same steps as for How to Cook White Basmati Rice by Boiling.

How to Cook White Basmati Rice by Absorption Method

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Put the rice into a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.

Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover with a tight-fitting lid and leave undisturbed to cook until all of the water has been absorbed (usually 20-25 minutes).

Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes.

Check the rice. If the grains are not tender, replace the lid and leave untouched for another 5 minutes (the heat of the rice causes the rice to keep cooking).

Fluff up the rice and serve.

How to Cook White Rice by Absorption Method

Follow the same steps as for How to Cook White Basmati Rice by Absorption Method.

How to Steam White Rice

To do the steaming, use a steamer saucepan (where the lower part is solid and used to hold the boiling water and the upper part has holes for the steam to leave the lower part) or use a clean muslin cloth with a normal saucepan.

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Soak the rice for 30 minutes then drain.

Put the rice into a normal saucepan with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.

Bring to the boil and gently boil for 10 minutes, gently stirring now and again.

Tip the rice into a large sieve or colander (with holes too small for the rice to slip through), rinse with hot water and drain away any liquid.

Put hot water into the lower part of a steamer saucepan so that the bottom quarter of the saucepan has water or cover the saucepan with a sagging muslin cloth (you must keep the cloth out of the water), bring the water to the boil, tip the partially cooked rice into the upper part of the steamer (or into the muslin cloth), cover the saucepan with a tight lid and steam by keeping the water boiling for 15 minutes.

Make sure that the rice is cooked as soft as you want (if the rice needs more cooking, steam for another 5 minutes before checking the rice again).

Once the rice is cooked to your liking, tip the rice into a serving dish, fluff up the rice with a fork and serve.

How to Microwave White Rice

The length of time needed to microwave white rice, including white basmati rice, depends on the power of your microwave. The more modern microwaves are more often more powerful than the older models (for example, a microwave could be 700 watts or 900 watts). The more modern microwaves have multiple power settings so you can select the power that you want.

Most microwaves come with a booklet that tells you how long to cook different items and rice is often one of the items included in the booklet.

But if rice is not included in your booklet (or you do not have a booklet) then you may have to find out the best time for your microwave by trial and error.

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Soak the rice for 30 minutes then drain.

Put the rice into a microwave-proof dish with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.

Cover the microwave-proof dish with microwave-proof kitchen film, put the dish into the microwave and close the microwave door.

Set your microwave to the usual setting that you use (if you have a selectable power setting on your microwave) and microwave the rice for a period of 15 minutes for every cup of rice in the dish (so 1 cup of rice would cook for 15 minutes, 2 cups of rice would cook for 30 minutes, etc.).

Check the rice to see if it is cooked as soft as you want (if the rice needs more cooking, microwave for another 1 minute for each cup of rice before checking the rice again).

Once the rice is cooked to your liking, remove the dish from the microwave, remove the kitchen film, leave the rice to sit for 5 minutes then fluff up the rice with a fork and serve.

Remember to make a note of how long it took to microwave the rice so that you know for next time.

It may look like microwaving rice is fiddly and messy but it is so easy once you have worked out the correct timings to suit you.

How to Cook Pudding Rice

Pudding rice is a style of short-grain white rice that is sold in the UK to be used in desserts (such as rice pudding).

Pudding rice is rarely cooked by itself and is often cooked with a mixture of milk and sugar (as well as other ingredients), rather than being cooked in water.

The following details show how you would cook pudding rice if you were doing it in water. It is just a general guide on how to cook pudding rice – you would follow a recipe if you were making a dessert (pudding) with the rice.

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Put the rice into a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.

Bring the saucepan to the boil, adjust the heat to the lowest setting where the liquid is gently simmering and simmer (uncovered) for 2 hours.

Cover with a tight-fitting lid, remove from the heat and set aside for 20 minutes.

The pudding rice is now cooked (remember, it is very unlikely that you will be cooking pudding rice in just water).

How to Cook Sticky (Glutinous) Rice

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Soak the rice for at least an hour in cold water.

Put the rice into a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.

Bring the saucepan to the boil, adjust the heat to get a simmer and simmer (partially uncovered) for 15 minutes.

Cover with a tight-fitting lid, remove from the heat and set aside for 20 minutes.

Serve.

How to Cook Red Rice

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Put the rice into a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of rice.

Bring the saucepan to the boil, adjust the heat to get a good simmer and simmer (uncovered) for 30 minutes.

Most of the water will have evaporated or been absorbed into the rice. Tip the rice into a large sieve or colander (with holes too small for the rice to slip through) and rinse with hot water.

Gently fluff up the rice with a fork and serve immediately.

How to Cook Black Rice

Rinse the rice under cold water then drain.

Soak the rice for at least 2 hours then drain.

Bring the saucepan to the boil.

Boil the rice vigorously (uncovered) for about 30 minutes.

Cover with a tight-fitting lid, remove from the heat and set aside for 20 minutes.

Gently fluff up the rice with a fork and serve immediately.

Cooking Rice Summary

Type of Rice Method Soak Time Cooking Time Resting Time
White Basmati Rice Boiling 30 minutes 20 minutes  
White Rice Boiling 30 minutes 20 minutes
White Basmati Rice Absorption 20-25 minutes 5 minutes
White Rice Absorption 20-25 minutes 5 minutes
White Rice Steaming 30 minutes 10 minutes + 15 minutes
White Rice Microwaving 30 minutes 15 minutes per cup of rice 5 minutes
Pudding Rice Boiling 2 hours 20 minutes
Sticky (Glutinous) Rice Boiling 1 hour 15 minutes 20 minutes
Red Rice Boiling 30 minutes
Black Rice Boiling 2 hours 30 minutes 20 minutes

basmati rice

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