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How to cook fluffy and separate rice for pulao or biryani?

by Sonia on March 17, 2011

Cooked Basmati Rice


Jeera rice (cooked Basmati rice)

Hi world!

In last week of February, we had a Satyanarayan Puja at home with 27 friends. We arranged everything from top to bottom by ourselves. It’s first time we managed our function without parents and family. Man! it’s not easy task to handle and it’s not impossible either. Planning, preparing, shopping, arranging, re-arranging, inviting friends and finally the most important task is to wind up everything after your event is finished. Our menu was typical Indian style with Wheat ladoo, Potato curry, Gujarati Dal, Broad Beans gravy (Rangoon Val), Poori, Methi gota aka fritters, and rice with fried chilies and pickles. Oh yum! If you think I did make all these goodies. No..no.. I didn’t but we hired an Indian cook. Oh yes, how can I forget the famous Sooji Halwa, offering prasad to God. It’s SO mouth-watering and delicious! Overall, we enjoyed our event very very much. Everything went very well. Felt so satisfied and happy!

Well, last week I received an email from a reader, asked me how to cook perfect rice for pulao. To get perfect grain and fluffy rice is very easy. I have learned it after good practice and now I know very well how to cook perfect rice with fluffy with each grain separate. If you don’t have/use rice cooker don’t worry. I’m here to help you.

For Indian pulao, biryani, Indo-Chinese rice, Mexican rice or you name any rice dish, I follow the same method to cook the rice. I have posted our one of favourite recipes Mix Vegetable Pulav and Jeera rice. Before proceeding to recipe part, let me share some tips.[/donotprint]


How to cook fluffy rice with separate grains?

  • Do you wash rice with hot water? If yes, it’s wrong. Use only normal tap water. Never use hot water for washing or soaking rice because it will easily break the natural texture of long grain rice like basmati.
  • Remember when you cook rice for pulao/biryani always cook the rice on medium-high heat with stirring couple of times with spatula. This way it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Don’t leave it unattended.
  • Soak rice at least for 20-30 minutes or so. When I’m in hurry I would soak them in slightly warm water, did you hear me? slightly warm water but never in hot water. The warm water softens the rice grains faster.
  • When your rice is cooked, drain immediately running under cold tap water. Pour lots of cold water over it. Tilt  your colander in sink couple of times but carefully. Let them drain completely for at least 3 hours.
  • When I’m in short of time, I would put the cooked rice (in same colander) in front of table fan on. Obviously, it will help to cool them faster. It may sound funny to you but this works very perfectly for me. I also heard that some people spread the rice on wide plate and put it in refrigerator.
  • If you have planned to have a pulao, biryani or any rice dish for dinner, make it ahead. The cooking time is not more than 10 minutes so it’s nice idea to cook in early morning before you leave for work. Just cook as per below instructions, drain out and cover with crisper tray (with lots of holes on dish) or screen splatter. When you back from work you’ll have a beautiful and perfect rice is ready. Just carefully fluff with fork.
  • The leftover rice can be frozen. Thaw them well or microwave it before you use.

I use Jasmine rice or basmati randomly but we both love Jasmine rice’s fragrance, texture and everything so I use it most. You can use any kind of rice of your choice.

Plain Rice Recipe (yields approx 2 or 2.5 cups)

soaking time: 30 minutes
cooking time: less than 10 minutes


  • 1 C uncooked basmati, jasmine rice or any kind of your choice
  • Water as per need
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil


1. Rinse and wash rice 2-3 times and soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain and keep it aside.

2. Bring a lots of water to boil (about 5-6 cups water with adding a tsp salt). Salt increases the boiling point of the water and enhances the flavour of the rice. Add a tsp of oil and rice, carefully. Stir occasionally to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Use your spatula for stirring, spatula works best.

3. Cook rice on medium-high heat. It will cook around in 7-8 minutes. Make sure your rice don’t get overcooked. It should be cooked about 95% 90% (because when you drain the cooked rice from it’s still cooking with steam) but at the same time they’re still fluffy and separate grains.

4. Drain the cooked rice through a colander, running under cold water over the rice in the colander. Tilt your colander to drain all excess water. Keep it aside for at least 2-3 hours to drain all the water. Or use any of above tips, table fan or fridge. When rice is cooled enough, carefully fluff with fork or spatula to separate them. Spice up your rice with your choice!

The above picture is from Jeera rice (I used basmati) and below picture is from plain Jasmine rice with peas. I hope the above few tips will help you some way. If you have any own suggestion, tips or secret please do share in below comment section. Thank you!

Cooked Jasmine Rice


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