How to cook basmati rice for biryani – the title of the post explains all. With some tips and suggestions I will be sharing how to make or prepare basmati rice perfectly for a dum cooked and layered Vegetable biryani recipe. the method of cooking basmati rice for biryani shared here is only meant for making biryani recipes in which rice grains are cooked till they are 75% done.
Rice grains cooked till they are ¾ᵗʰ or 75% done can be used in making a vegetable biryani, paneer biryani, mushroom biryani and also pakki non vegetarian biryani versions. When making a biryani recipe always follow the recipe. Some biryani recipes where less gravy or yakhni is used, the rice grains can be cooked till 90%. with any veg biryani recipes, the doneness time will depend on the particular recipe. In most of the vegetarian biryani recipes that I have shared on blog, I have cooked the rice grains till they are 75% done.
If you plan to make kacchi biryani, then you will need to cook the rice grains till they are 50% or 60% done. The cooking time of the rice also depends on the recipe you are following. For making kachchi veg biryani, you can cook rice till its 75% done, but for a kachi mutton biryani or kachi chicken biryani, the doneness will depend on the recipe. Eg. For kachi mutton biryani, rice grains are cooked till 50% (half-cooked) and for kachi chicken biryani, rice grains are cooked till 70% to 75%.
Sometimes I do get comments or queries where readers have not been able to have a separate and yet fully cooked grains of rice in a traditional biryani. The rice becomes too mushy and soft. While making biryani, if the rice gets too mushy or soft, the flavor and taste of the biryani does not come through very well. I can say this from experience as when I started cooking biryani initially, I would end up with a mushy rice at times.
I make biryani occasionally during weekends and by now I make really good biryanis. When I have biryani in restaurants, I feel the ones I make at home are better.
While preparing biryani, one of the most important factor is to use a good quality basmati rice. if you are able to use the right one, half the job is done. You can always first try cooking the rice plain and see if the grains get cooked fluffy and separate. Experiment a few times. I have used various brands of organic basmati rice as well as Indian brands of basmati rice. At times some of them yielded sticky mushy rice, even after rinsing them very well in water as well as cooking for the right period of time. So I would use these rice grains for making Khichdi or to be served with sambar or kuzhambu.
When I cook everyday rice for simple homemade dal or sambar, I cook them in a pressure cooker to save time. The pressure cooked and slightly sticky rice is fine with us while serving with a homely dal or sambar. But when I cook rich gravy recipes, then I cook the rice in a pot using the absorption method. I have shared the method on this post – How to cook basmati rice in a pot or pan.
In a layered dum cooked biryani, the rice is cooked twice:
- First is the regular cooking of rice in water and
- Second is further cooking of the rice in a tightly sealed pot or pan.
- So if the rice is just cooked or cooked well in the first instance, then while cooking for the second round, the rice gets done more than what is required. Thus when making a biryani, cook the rice till its done ¾th or 75% cooked. Now you will ask, how to find if the rice is cooked ¾th. You need to check the doneness of the rice grains. I have explained the method below in the step by step pics.
The most common method use to cook rice while making biryani is the rapid boiling method.
- In this method the Rice is cooked in ample amount of boiling water.
- Once the rice grains are cooked, the water is discarded.
- Hence any remaining amount of starch that is there in the rice also gets discarded with the water. Thus making the rice less sticky or with no stickiness.
Cooking rice for a biryani is not difficult at all. with some tips kept in mind, one can make perfectly cooked rice.
Few popular Biryani recipes on the blog are:
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How to cook Rice for Biryani
For prepping rice
- 1.5 cups basmati rice (heaped) - 300 grams
- 1 cup water - for soaking rice
For cooking rice
- 2 green cardamoms
- 2 black cardamoms
- 2 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- 2 single mace strands
- 5 cups water - for cooking rice
- ½ teaspoon salt or add as per taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon oil - optional
- 4 to 5 drops lemon juice - optional
- In a bowl take the basmati rice. You can use any amount of rice depending on the biryani recipe you are making.
- Start to rinse the rice grains in running water. Rinse the rice grains with a gentle swirling of your fingers in the bowl.
- Rinse rice until the water looks clear, transparent and without starch.
- In the same bowl, soak the rinsed rice for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes drain all of the water from the rice using a strainer. Set the rice aside.
Cooking rice for biryani
- Take a deep bottomed pan. Add 5 cups water and heat the water on a high heat. To save time, I heat the water in an electric heater. Then add the water to the pan and place it on the stove-top.
- When the water becomes hot, add all the spices and salt as required.
- Usually for most biryani recipes, the rice is cooked together with the spices. But if you do not have spices or do not want to add any spices, then just skip adding them.
- Bring the water to a rapid boil. Then add the rice. You can also add ½ to 1 teaspoon of oil or ghee at this step.
- Just gently stir with a spoon or fork, after you add the rice.
- Do not reduce the flame and continue to cook the rice without any lid.
- The rice has to be 75% or ¾ᵗʰ cooked. The grains should have a slight bite to them when cooked. The rice should not be fully cooked but almost cooked.
- Remove the pan from the stove top and immediately drain the rice in a colander. You can also rinse the rice gently with cool water so that the grains stop cooking. Gently fluff and keep aside.
- You can also remove and spread the rice on a large plate or tray. Cover with a lid.
- When the rice becomes warm or cools down, you can use it for layering in biryani.
- While my recipe shows you cooking 1.5 cups of basmati rice, feel free to change the quantities of the ingredients proportionately.
- You can skip the spices if you do not have them.
- Adding lemon juice is optional and can be omitted.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
How to cook basmati rice for biryani recipe
1. Take 1.5 cups basmati rice (300 grams) in a bowl. You can use any amount of rice depending on the biryani recipe you are making. But do the change proportion of water you will add depending on the amount of rice. Eg for 1 cup of basmati rice, you can take 3 to 3.5 cups water.
2. Begin to rinse the rice grains in running water. rinse the basmati rice very well with gentle swirling of your fingers in the bowl.
3. If you see the below pic, you see an opaque water. Thats the starch in the water.
4. The rice has to be rinsed till the water becomes clear, transparent and without starch.
5. Then soak the rice in 1 cup water for 30 minutes. Soaking is essential, so do not skip this step.
6. After 30 minutes drain all the water and keep the rice aside.
1. Take a deep bottomed pan. Add 5 cups water and heat the water on a high flame.
Suggestion: to save time, I heat the water first in an electric kettle. Then add the hot water to the pan and place the pan on the stove top.
2. When the water becomes hot, add all the spices – 1 tej patta, 3 green cardamoms, 3 cloves, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon. Also add ½ tsp salt or as per your taste.
3. usually for most Biryani recipes, the rice is cooked along with the spices. But if you do not have spices or do not want to add any spices, then just skip them. You can also add the spices mentioned in the recipe or your own choice of spices.
4. bring the water to a rapid boil.
5. then add the rice. You can also add ½ to 1 tsp of oil or ghee at this step. I generally do not add oil or ghee.
6. Just gently stir with a spoon or fork, after you add the rice.
Tip – one of the readers had given this suggestion to add a few drops of lemon juice. Addition of lemon juice, helps in making the rice grains longer, whiter and non sticky.
7. You will see that after adding rice, the temperature of the water decreases a bit.
8. Do not reduce the flame and continue to cook the rice without any lid. It just takes about 10 to 12 minutes for the rice to be cooked. Timing will vary with the intensity of the flame, the thickness and size of pan and the quality of rice grains. The water will reduce as the rice grains will absorb the water and swell.
9. The rice has to be 75% or ¾th cooked. The grains should have a slight bite to them when cooked. The rice should not be fully cooked but almost cooked.
To check the doneness of biryani rice
- You can either press the rice grains between the forefinger and thumb or bite a few rice grains. While pressing, the rice grains you should feel the softness of the cooked rice as well as a slight ‘kachchapan’ or a faint rawness in the rice. Meaning while you press the grains, it should get mashed but also there will be some denseness in them.
- If biting, you should get a slight bite in the rice grains.
10. Remove the pan from the stove top and immediately drain the rice in a colander. You can also rinse the rice gently with water so that the grains stop cooking. Gently fluff and keep aside. You can also spread the rice in a plate. Spreading them in a plate helps them to cool faster and they are easy to handle when you begin the layering.
11. When the rice becomes warm or cools down, you can use it for layering in biryani. Below picture is of the Hyderabadi veg biryani made with this cooked basmati rice.