The Secrets of Basmati Rice

Rice is the main course -- and the heart of most meals in India.

Photo credit: Eva Baughman
Sudha Koul

Sudha Koul

Sudha Koul is from Kashmir, India. She came to the United States after marriage and raised a family while writing about Indian culture and cuisine

"No perfume compares to the soul-satisfying fragrance and presence of cooked basmati rice."

Khada Masala Pullao (Whole Spice Pilaf)

Photo credit: Sudha and Kishen Koul

This rich yet simple rice dish provides a delicious base to a meal of raita, curry, and a chopped fresh salad of cucumber, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.

It’s a good idea to have all ingredients at hand to put into the saucepan in quick succession. The spices from cinnamon to cloves can all go into one bowl before being added to the contents of the saucepan.


1. Heat the butter or ghee in 4 liter (4 quart) saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to sizzle.

2. Add cinnamon, cardamom pods, cumin seed, peppercorns, bay leaf, cloves; stir fry for a few seconds until fragrant.

3. Add rice and stir-fry for a few seconds until some of the grains turn golden.

4. Add the water and salt to taste, stir. Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to very low. Cover and let cook until the water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Note: For a variation you can add a cup of peas when frying the rice, then proceed as above. Season to taste with salt as needed.