Cooking Basmati Rice for Biryani

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 to 90%. With any veg biryani recipes, the doneness time will depend on the particular recipe. In most of the vegetarian biryani recipes that we have shared in Gharguti, we 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. e.g. 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%.

While making biryani, if the rice gets too mushy or soft, the flavor and taste of the biryani do not come through very well.

While preparing biryani, one of the most important factors is to use 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. 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.

In a layered dum cooked biryani, the rice is cooked twice:

  1. First is the regular cooking of rice in water and
  2. 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 it’s 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 used 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 biryani is not difficult at all. With some tips kept in mind, one can make perfectly cooked rice.

Ingredients for basmati rice for biryani
(1 CUP = 250 ML)

Prepping rice:
1.5 cups basmati rice or 300 grams’ basmati rice
1 cup water for soaking rice

for cooking rice:
2 green cardamoms (hari elaichi or choti elaichi)
2 black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
2 cloves (laung or lavang)
1-inch cinnamon (dalchini)
1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
2 single mace strands (javitri)
5 cups water for cooking rice
½ teaspoon salt or add as per taste
½ to 1 teaspoon oil (optional)
a few drops of lemon juice (optional)

How to make basmati rice for biryani?

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.
Begin to rinse the rice grains in running water. Rinse the rice very well with the gentle swirling of your fingers in the bowl.
The rice has to be rinsed till the water becomes clear, transparent and without starch.
Then soak the rice in 1 cup water for 30 minutes. Soaking is essential, so do not skip this step.
After 30 minutes strain the rice and keep aside.

Cooking rice:
Take a deep bottomed pan. Add 5 cups of water and heat the water on a high flame. To save time, we 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 1/2 tsp salt or as per taste.
Spices to be added are – 1 tej patta, 3 green cardamoms, 3 cloves, 1 black cardamom, 1-inch cinnamon. 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.
Bring the water to a rapid boil. Then add the rice. You can also add 1/2 to 1 tsp 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 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.
When the rice becomes warm or cools down, you can use it for layering in biryani.