Cooking rice might seem very easy theoretically but when you do it practically, you are in for a toss if you don’t know how to make rice that’s fluffy and tender. You don’t want your rice to be mushy. This post is applicable for cooking any variant of rice. Earlier I had written a post on making Fried Rice, so this post is applicable there too.
So the first step in making basic, fluffy rice, with each grain distinct and not mushy is soaking and rinsing rice. I usually rinse my rice in a few changes (maybe 4-5) of tap water. Why I do this is, it will remove any dirt and dust present in the rice and also removes loose starch, making the rice less sticky. Soaking also makes the grains less brittle and helps the rice to expand to its maximum length (in case of basmati rice). After that you should drain the rice thoroughly.
Step two is the cooking method. Rice is cooked in a measured amount of water so that by the time the rice is cooked, all the water has been absorbed (refer my previous post). As the water level drops, trapped steam finishes the cooking. The key to this method is figuring out the correct amount of water. As a general rule, use 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups of water per cup of long-grain white rice, but you may need to experiment a little to find the amount you like best. Brown rices require more water, while shorter-grain rices require less. Keep in mind that more water gives you softer, stickier rice—great for stir-fries. Less water results in firmer rice, a good style for rice salads.
The other important element is a heavy-based pot (to prevent scorching on the bottom) with a tight-fitting lid that keeps the steam in. If your lid fits loosely, put a clean kitchen cloth between the lid and the pot. In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine 1-3/4 cups water, the rice, and a bit of butter or oil and salt, if you like. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook at a gentle simmer until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 12 minutes (it’s okay to lift the lid to make sure the rice is fully cooked and the water is absorbed—just replace the lid quickly).
The third and final step is allowing rice to rest. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, undisturbed with the lid on, for at least 5 minutes and for as long as 30 minutes. This lets the moisture redistribute, resulting in a more uniform texture, with the bottom layers as fluffy as the top.Remove the lid, fluff the rice gently with a fork or chopstick, and serve.