Rice is a basic. It is likely one of the first things you want to master once you find yourself in that situation where you are suddenly fending for yourself in the kitchen. You are n ow living on your own and need to eat, or perhaps you have a family you wish to cook for. An important companion to stir fry, tikka masala, Egyptian spinach, mulokhia, fasulya, and countless other stews, we all need some perfect rice to serve up. But all too often, I hear horror stories about cooking rice. Sure, I do have some of my own as well. You see, if you do not measure carefully, or if you miss a beat with the boiling process and heat reduction, it is very easy to have a sticky, smushy, or too crunchy disaster.
No, I do not have any special appliance just for rice, nor do you need special lids or pots (although a great pot will help). Rice is not too finicky if you measure correctly and watch what you do for about 5 minutes. I promise. Read on and try this.
First of all this process pertains to long grain rice, basmati, or medium grain. Arborio rice, sushi rice, and especially brown rice have quite different measurement requirements and cook times. For brown rice- I defer to my Instant Pot. Perfectly fluffy brown rice in 20 minutes is nothing to contend with.
So back to my rice recipe…
The secret my mother taught me is a basic mathematical ratio. Ready?
If Cups of rice=n and is greater than 1 cup; Cups of water (or liquid)= n+1.
Not into math? No problem. This means, when cooking more than 1 cup of rice this is the rule:
Whatever the number of cups of rice you use, use that exact amount of water, PLUS 1 CUP. It is that simple. The problem many run into, is doubling the water when doubling a recipe, which will lead to too much liquid and rice that is too sticky. So here is a breakdown of measurements for you:
1 cup of rice cooks in 2 cups of water
2 cups of rice cook in 3 cups of water
3 cups of rice cook in 4 cups of water
4 cups of rice cook in 5 cups water
Get the idea?
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So the process is easy once you understand this measurement.
Rice should be rinsed and soaked in cold water for about 10 minutes. Once drained, you are ready to cook it.
Place a pot over a range that is the same size as the pot to ensure even heat distribution. Turn on to high heat, add olive oil (not extra virgin), and stir in the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. If cooking with vermicelli noodles, as the classic Egyptian recipe calls, toast the noodles first, then add the rice. Toss the rice, and noodles if using them, in the oil until well coated, and then immediately add the water.
Once you have added the water, WATCH THE POT. Do not walk away until you get the hang of it. Chop some veggies nearby, rinse some dishes, or wipe down your counter. But do not leave the vicinity. As soon as the water begins to boil, reduce heat to LOW. If you let the water boil for more than 1 minute, then you risk evaporating too much water (crunchy, undercooked rice), and then possibly having to add more water (smushy, overcooked rice). The other important rule is to have a lid on your pot as soon as you reduce the heat to low. This ensures that you are not losing the moisture too quickly.
Check on your rice after 5 minutes, you should see that the water level has reduced, usually below the rice by the time ten minutes pass (depending how much you are cooking of course). Do not lift the lid, or stir anything. You may see some little holes at the top of the rice, which is a result of the steam escaping. Once the rice looks like the liquid has all simmered away (ten-fifteen minutes), you can lift the lid and stir the top of the rice. It should be fluffy. If the rice is completely dry of any liquid on the bottom, then you are done. Turn off the heat and move the pot away. If there is a little bit of liquid, leave the lid off and allow the pot to remain on the very low or warm heat for another minute or two before removing from heat.
I like to transfer the rice into a serving dish before the rice sticks to the bottom of the hot pot which may happen if your pots hold heat for a while.
So the trick is really in your rice to water ratio, and covering that pot and reducing the heat at the right moment. Just watch your pot and do not walk away until the water boils. When it does boil, reduce to low. That is pretty much all there is to it!
Please share your results with me below; I cant wait to hear about your perfect bowl of rice! Do you have your own fool-proof methods? Please share your own trick to perfect rice below!
- 2 c rice
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 c vermicelli noodles
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 c water
- Rinse the rice in cold water and soak for 10 minutes, then drain.
- In a pot over medium high heat, add the oil and vermicelli noodles if using. Toast until golden.
- Add the drained rice and salt and toss to coat well in oil.
- Add the water.
- Watch the pot until it begins to boil, and immediately turn heat down to low and cover with a heavy lid.
- After 10 minutes, check on the rice. Water should not be visible on the top. Stir the top of the rice and check for moisture on the bottom. If the rice is cooked and dry, remove from heat and allow to cool for no more than 10 minutes before transferring to a serving dish.