Every country seems to have it’s own version of perfection in rice cooking – my brother has become adept at cooking rice in the persian manner, complete with the prized crispy bottom layer known as tahdeeg, while Chinese food calls for sticky rice, which is easy to eat with chopsticks. However, this is the method we use, which produces reliably dry fluffy rice ideal for serving with Indonesian or Indian food. Indonesian rice dishes are eaten with spoon and fork, never chopsticks.
For 4 people I use 240g basmati rice, but if you’re cooking for Iranians or hungry teenagers you should probably increase that quantity to at least 300g – the instructions remain the same. I always use basmati rice – buy it in bulk from asian grocers if the supermarket price is off-putting – as it is so fragrant and gives a much better result.
Rinse the basmati rice and tip into quite a small deep saucepan. Cover with water to the depth of the first knuckle of your middle finger. Irene never salts the water when cooking rice – it can be seasoned once it has been cooked if necessary, but as its role is often to be the plain backdrop to a highly seasoned sauce this may not be necessary.
Cover the pan and bring to the boil (on 8 or 9), then turn down to a simmer (5 or even 4) and cook for 15 minutes (white basmati) or 20-25 minutes (wholemeal), at which point all the water should have evaporated and the rice should look dry and fluffy. Turn off the heat, and leave the pan with the lid on on the cooling hotplate to steam for a few minutes.