How to Cook Rice Perfectly Like Us Indians?

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Have you ever wondered why these Indians (including me) keep boiling their rice with so much extra water? Why won’t they just use the right amount of water so the rice cooks perfectly?

Don’t tell me you haven’t!

Many of my firangi friends wonder that. Firangi is the Indian word for foreigners, aka people from outside India.

Now that that’s sorted, there are a number of reasons we use an excess of water to cook rice. Here they are.

First and foremost, rice is a starchy grain. By cooking it with extra water, we’re able to drain all the excess starch from the rice after it’s cooked. Know what that means? Less starch equals fewer carbs equals a slimmer me or you! Whether it’s with a spicy pork tamriad or a baked simple ratatouille, you really must have cooked fluffy rice!

Individual separate grains of plain boiled rice Indian style 1.

What do you need to Cook Plain White Rice?

Other than the white rice itself, all you need is salt and water. A lot of water!

Sometimes we also add stuff like turmeric, cloves, bay leaves, anise, and other spices while cooking the rice.

How to make Fluffy White Rice at home?

Growing up in India, you’ll be in either of two camps while cooking rice. Some people use the pressure cooker and get lumpy rice or sticky rice. The rest of us, the sane ones, cook the way our ancestors did. Okay, maybe we’re not that sane, we love being a little crazy too. But we definitely know how to cook rice the right way and get it nice and fluffy with individual grains standing out.

Plain white rice in a sieve.
That’s the rice we’re going to use!

Always start by rinsing the rice a few times to remove any chemicals used during processing first.

Then heat water and salt in a pot. The water should be three to four times the quantity of the rice. There’s no fixed limit. Once the water starts boiling, add the rice to it and cook on a medium flame.

Water and salt boiling in a pot.
Let the water and salt boil
Rice boiling in water with clove.
You can see the rice boiling in water with a clove floating around

You can also add a few bay leaves, anise flowers, cloves, or cardamom to the water that the rice is boiling in. These spices add a bit of flavor but are optional.

Stir the rice a few times so that it does not stick to the bottom and it cooks equally. Sometimes we just leave it be, and it’s fine too!

After about 5 to 10 mins, check on the rice and squish a few grains between 2 fingers to see if it’s cooked. If it is still a bit hard, continue to boil for a few more minutes. If it is squishy, then your rice is ready.

Squish the rice with your fingertips  to check if it's cooked.
Squish the rice with your fingertips to check if it’s cooked

Turn the stove off, cover the vessel with a lid and drain out all of the water. You can use a sieve or colander if you wish, but we do it the traditional way. See the pic below!

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Drain the excess water with a lid.
Drain the excess water with a lid

And in just a matter of time, your fluffy individual grains of homemade rice with fluffy grains are ready to be served! You can top it with a spoonful of ghee or freshly chopped coriander if you wish!

Plain boiled rice and coriander.
Individual separate grains of plain boiled rice Indian style.

How to cook rice perfectly like us Indians?

Rice is a grain eaten daily all over India. But Indians don't cook rice like the Western world. Here's how to remove the starch and make your rice fluffy!
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 152 kcal
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Gluten free icon on Abbysplate website.
No added sugar icon on Abbysplate website.
Rice and Bread icon on Abbysplate website.
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  • 250 g White Rice
  • 2 Litres Water
  • .75 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Coriander Leaves Optional
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee (Indian clarified butter) Optional


  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Star Anise


  • Rinse the rice with water a few times to remove any loose husks from the rice. Even if your rice is clean, we recommend rinsing it a few times like we Indians do. It removes the excess starch from the rice which also makes it less fattening.
  • In a pot, boil the water with salt. Once boiling, add the rice and leave to cook. (We always add more water than is required. See the post for my explanation.) Stir occasionally.
  • After 10 mins, check if the rice is cooked by pinching a few grains between your thumb and forefinger.
  • If it's not ready, cook for a few more minutes.
  • Once the rice has cooked, drain the water from the rice and serve on a platter. (This excess water will also contain starch that we don't want to eat because it's unnecessary excess carbs.)
  • Optionally, sprinkle chopped fresh coriander and serve hot!

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  • When using our traditional rinse methods, the salt drains with the excess water, and the rice is left with a low amount of salt. 
  • You can top the rice with a tablespoon of Indian clarified butter aka ghee. This gives it a really nutty flavor!
  • You could throw in a couple of bay leaves or star anise while the rice water is boiling. This adds flavor!

Stuff You Might Want to Use

6 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Stainless Steel Spoon
Bay Leaves
long grain rice

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.05g | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Disclaimer: Nutrition Information per serving is estimated by a third party software based on the ingredients used, and is for informational purposes only. It will vary from product to product, based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. Please consult the package labels of the ingredients you use, or chat with your dietician for specific details.

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What’s Perfect about this Simple Indian Rice Recipe?

  • It’s simple, quick and easy to make.
  • It requires just 3 main ingredients, while the rest are optional add-ons.
  • Rice without starch is a lot better than the fattening starchy rice that people eat!

Cooking Tips Or Tricks

FAQ’s About Rice And Cooking Rice Indian Style

Is Rice Naturally White?

No, all rice is naturally brown. There is a process that removes the outer layers that makes it white.

Can Cooked Rice Be Reheated?

Yes, rice can be reheated after you’ve cooked it, but make sure it is piping hot and do not reheat it more than a couple of times. Also, add in a little water while reheating – this makes sure the rice doesn’t get dry.

Can Cooked White Rice Be Refrigerated?

Yes, plain boiled rice can be kept in the fridge for about 4 – 7 days. If the rice has other ingredients such as peas, fried onions, or boiled veggies, then not more than 2 to 3 days max.

Can Cooked Rice Be Frozen?

Yes, you can store leftover cooked rice in an airtight container in the freezer if you want to eat it another time. It will stay edible for months. Just add a few spoons of water after thawing and reheat well before serving.

So sometimes you just gotta ask, do you cook rice like an Indian or like a firangi? Or should I say, are you pro-starch or anti-starch? Or maybe the question is, do you eat lumpy rice or do you prefer individual grains of rice that are so fluffy, light, and delicious?

How to make use of leftover boiled rice water?

Getting rid of the starch was of course the main reason for draining it. Of course, there were other reasons our ancestors did it.

Rice kanji aka leftover boiled rice water in a pot.
Rice kanji: We leave it in the fridge for a day!
Thick rice starch in a pot.
The rice kanji thickens if left alone
Thick rice starch in a steel pot.
If you shake the vessel, you’ll see the rice starch sticking to the sides!

Such as using the drained starch water which we Indians call rice kanji to wash clothes. This process helped the clothes, especially cotton by creating a protective layer around the strands that gave it a crisper new feeling and also prevented straining. Our grannies really knew what they were doing.

Girl with shiny curly hair.
Washing my hair with rice water makes it shiny!

Another good use of starch water was to soften hair, but remembering to take the kanji out of the fridge and into the bathroom is another story. The rice kanji aka boiled rice water also makes the hair shiny and adds more volume to it. Can you believe I’ve not been to a salon since 2016? But you don’t get instant results with this. It takes time and effort!

And you can read this other post by my sis if you’re wondering why we add turmeric to rice while cooking.

Anyways, yes, the main reason we use excess water to boil rice is to get rid of the excess carbs. Plus, the rice turns out so much fluffier and lighter. Don’t take my word for it. Try this plain boiled rice for yourself!

What can I do with leftover boiled rice that isn’t related to hair?

Well, of course there are so many things you can do with leftover rice. For instance, turn it into jeera rice, or burnt onion rice, or tricolor rice, or more!

If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.

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East Indian Celebration
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Pinterest image of easy to make plain boiled rice topped with coriander.
Pinterest image of easy to make coriander rice.

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