3 Common Mistakes People Make While Cooking Basmati Rice

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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Mistakes People Make While Cooking Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is popular for its aroma and taste yet cooking it can be tricky if you are not well familiar with it. I found out that simple techniques like soaking, incorrect water ratio, and not adding oil and salt, are the 3 common mistakes people make while cooking basmati rice.

Basmati Mystery

Having a taste of basmati rice takes you to the Middle East where spices and herbs, nuts and aromatics overpower your senses.

It has its unique and distinct characteristics that make basmati rice stand out among the other rice variants.

Together with jasmine rice, basmati rice has also captured the world’s attention because of its fragrance especially when cooked.

In terms of health benefits, basmati rice has better nutritional contents than regular white rice because of its increased fiber content, more particularly its brown rice variety.

However, a lot of people still find it hard to cook basmati rice.

Unique Characteristics

3 common mistakes people make while cooking basmati rice

Basmati rice is not only popular for its aroma but also for its texture which is soft and fluffy. Its grains are separated when cooked and its size lengthens to a certain proportion when soaked.

A lot of people say that both jasmine and basmati rice have the same aroma but for me, basmati rice has a more distinct and stronger scent.

Another special characteristic of basmati rice is that as gets aged, the more it releases an aroma. This is why most authentic brands offer aged basmati with 2 years minimum.

To get a perfect bowl of basmati rice, here are the 3 common mistakes people make while cooking basmati rice:

3 Common Mistakes People Make While Cooking Basmati Rice

Cooking homemade basmati rice need not be complicated as long as you understand the cooking techniques. You can achieve those long, separated, and fluffy grains that make this grain unique apart from its aroma.

Find out how to cook the perfect basmati rice by avoiding these 3 common mistakes:


rinsing and soaking rice

For most rice varieties, washing and rinsing is a crucial step. In cooking basmati rice, aside from washing, soaking the grains is highly essential.

In my many attempts to cook the perfect basmati rice, I realized that I was always in a hurry to do it not knowing that its perfection comes from a simple step- soaking.

I searched it through most Middle Eastern recipes and found out that soaking basmati rice helps the grain expand and shortens cooking time.

Soaking also retains most of its flavor and texture, making sure you get the most of its taste and aroma by locking it through soaking.

  1. Measure desired basmati rice to cook. Put in a large bowl.
  2. Add in cold running water and rinse at least 3 times.
  3. After rinsing, add more water, just enough to cover the grains. Soak for about 30 minutes. The longer time you soak, the lesser cooking time you’ll get.
  4. Drain the water after 30 minutes and cook the rice.

Correct Water Ratio for Basmati Rice

correct rice to water ratio for basmati rice

Again and again, you always read that water plays an important role in cooking different rice grains and varieties. However, the only thing that differs is the amount needed.

For white rice, the general rule is 1:1 rice to water ratio. However, the water ratio increases based on the size, and hardness of the grains.

If you notice, colored grains such as brown rice, red, black, and the wild needs more water than any other varieties. Basmati rice, on the other hand, needs about a half cup more.

Basmati rice is different from other East Asian rice varieties. It has lesser starch, this is the content which absorbs much water, so basmati rice only needs less water.

So if you are cooking one cup of basmati rice, you need to add 1 and 1/2 cup of water. But, note that if you are cooking larger quantities, you need to adjust the water level.

For example, if you intend to cook 2 cups of basmati rice, you need to add 2 and 1/2 cups of water.

Seasoning Basmati Rice

seasoning basmati rice

Although homemade basmati rice does not need optional ingredients, however, if you wish to enhance the flavor, adding salt and oil greatly helps.

Oil locks in the water and avoid any spill-overs while salt releases much of its aroma when cooking plus adding extra flavor to your rice.

If you go to restaurants, you will notice that their basmati rice tastes way better, as always.

These two ingredients are actually their not-so-secret elements.

Seasoning basmati rice also makes it ready for different rice dishes you wish to prepare.

  • After adding the correct amount of water into your basmati rice, add a pinch of salt and a splash of oil to seal in the flavor and aroma.
  • For authentic Indian-style or Middle Eastern basmati recipe, you can substitute ghee instead of regular oil.

Bonus Cooking Tips

yellow basmati rice

Apart from these 3 common mistakes, people make while cooking basmati rice, another bonus factor is the type of basmati rice used.

Basmati rice comes from Asia and the Middle East and has tons of cooking variety.

If you want to purchase basmati rice, choose the brands which came from these countries.

I usually use Tilda, Daawat, and Royal brands because they all have good quality basmati grains. You can also purchase them online so you can read consumer reviews before buying.

All these brands mentioned have soft, separate, fluffy grains, perfect for a bowl of restaurant-style basmati rice. Using a bowl of authentic basmati rice lets you wonder what cooking style to use, the most popular are Indian-style, Persian style, and Arabic.

How to Achieve Yellow Basmati Rice

For quite some time, I’ve been hooked up with java rice, which is yellow rice made from turmeric and originating in SouthEast Asia. It has a very unique taste and aroma, not to mention the amazing health benefits.

Basmati rice can turn yellow too! You can use turmeric but the best yellowing agent is saffron. When you go to the Middle East, you will see more of this yellow rice with saffron in almost all restaurants.

You can achieve yellow basmati rice too by simply adding this great optional ingredient in your next homemade basmati rice.

How to Add Saffron in Basmati Rice

saffron on basmati rice
  • Warm at least a tablespoon of water or milk (whichever you prefer) in the microwave.
  • Pulverize the saffron with your fingers and then add it to the warm liquid.
  • Stir for a few seconds and let it sit for about 10-20 minutes. This is perfect when you are cooking basmati rice on the side
  • When the rice is cooked, get a quarter cup of cooked basmati and mix with your saffron.
  • Add the yellow rice on top of the white and serve!

Using Turmeric in Basmati Rice

If you don’t want the strong scent of saffron, you can alternatively use turmeric. Turmeric is also known for its rich antioxidant properties.

You can do the same procedure as the saffron, but only replace it with turmeric.

  • You can use an eighth teaspoon of turmeric and a tablespoon of water.
  • Mix 1/4 cup of cooked basmati rice into your mixture.
  • Add it back to the white rice and serve

Spices and Herbs

To make your basmati rice rich in flavor, you can try cooking the Indian style basmati. Indian-style basmati rice is infused with a lot of herbs and spices.

You will certainly feel hungry once the aroma starts surrounding your kitchen. 😛

Indian-style basmati mostly uses different kinds of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, and cumin seeds.

These herbs and spices make basmati rice more enticing and exciting to eat. Some varieties of Indian-style basmati includes using curry powder.

Whew! I can only imagine its goodness! It makes me crave for it! 😛

How to Cook Perfect Basmati Rice

At first, I also thought that basmati rice is such an intimidating grain to cook. Luckily, I was so into this rice that I was able to decode its cooking mystery!

There are two popular cooking methods for basmati, the stovetop method, and the rice cooker. It all depends on availability. If you already own a rice cooker, then perhaps, cooking basmati will be a lot easier!

What you will need:

  • 1 cup of Basmati rice
  • a cup and a half of water
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (unsalted)
  • Optional ingredients: cardamom, saffron, and other spices

How to Cook:

  1. After you have soaked the basmati rice, gently drain all the water using a colander until all water is out
  2. Add the rice and 1 and 1/2 cup of water in a medium-sized saucepan together with the salt, butter, and the optional ingredients if you prefer
  3. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring it to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed and the rice is tender
  4. If the rice comes out a little firm, add at least 2 tablespoons of water and continue cooking. But, if the rice is already tender, turn the heat to its lowest and leave it steaming for at least 5 minutes.
  5. When the rice is cooked, gently fluff it with a fork and turn the heat off. Let it rest for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve!

How to cook basmati rice using rice cooker

advantages of using neuro-fuzzy logic rice cooker

I’m a big fan of rice cookers, not only because you can cook great rice in them but also because they are a very universal devices. This great appliance is able to cook a lot of dishes and it’s supposed to be named a multi-cooker, not just specific to rice! 😀

On the technological side, the best devices have neuro-fuzzy logic technology that allows rice cooker to ‘act and think’ on its own and make certain temperature and heating time adjustments in order to achieve perfect rice.

One of the best rice cookers I’ve come across is Zojirushi NS-ZCC10. It is a Neuro-fuzzy rice cooker and warmer which cooks flawless rice. This rice cooker features a variety of cooking settings from regular white rice, basmati to jasmine, brown rice, and even instant rice.

Here is how to cook Basmati Rice with Zojirushi NS-ZCC10:

  1. Place the drained rice in the rice cooker inner pot and add 2 cups of water. Note: You must use the measuring cup included in the box.
  2. Select the Regular White Rice setting on the cooking menu. At this point, you can leave the rice cooking and do other important stuff.
  3. When the device beeps, informing you that your rice is cooked, gently fluff it with a spatula and let it Keep warm for a few minutes.
  4. Serve warm!

As you can see it’s very easy. Just do a few steps and the rest will be done by rice cooker.


Making rice may have a general rule but then every variant has its own characteristics and cooking techniques. Although, this rule might work at some point, however, it may not be the perfect result you were expecting.

Just like today’s topic, there are 3 common mistakes people make while cooking basmati rice. Each rice variety has different processes, some you can skip, but some, you must not. Basmati rice is totally different, you can cook it the regular way, but you won’t be satisfied because you haven’t unlocked its goodness.

You must remember that soaking, adding the correct water ratio, and seasoning the rice are the keys to achieving an excellent bowl of basmati rice. Another notable element in cooking is the method you use. Basmati is a little complicated than white rice so you need a cooking partner that can handle most of the job for you.

This is where the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 comes in to save you from all these hassles. Its modern neuro-fuzzy technology is immensely helpful especially to those who live in a fast-paced environment where you have limited cooking time.

I hope you get to learn a lot and note down all the essential components why these 3 are the topmost important considerations plus the bonus tips we shared!

Have you tried cooking basmati rice? Let us know your cooking tips in the comments below!

🔥 Editor's Choice
Zojirushi NS-ZCC10

Zojirushi NS-ZCC10

Relatively small kitchen-counter footprint, an attractive exterior, and a number of different cooking presets,