The Magic of Rice: Basmati and Biryani

Madhur Jaffrey

Lesson time 14:45 min

Rice is an ancient staple of Indian cuisine and culture. This lesson covers the simplest cooking method and traditional presentation of basmati rice alongside a showstopping dish, lamb biryani.

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Topics include: Cooking Basmati Rice · Serving Rice · Lamb Biryani · Serving Biryani


[UPBEAT MUSIC] INSTRUCTOR: Rices are ancient in India. Even when Alexander came to India, he saw rice growing in the fields. And there's a history. There's a tradition of eating that we've had for a long time, meals with rice. [UPBEAT MUSIC] So when I go to the market and I want basmati rice, I'll probably look for a rice grown in a particular region. Dehradun, which is in the foothills of the Himalayas, produces very good basmati rice. There are very nutritious, wonderful waters. And they only are the ones that produce good quality basmati rice. With basmati rice, there are certain things that we require. We require the aroma. We require that it be aged. Therefore, you look at the color, it's a yellowish color, and that is what comes from aging. The characteristics of each rice is different. Basmati rice grows a little bit fat, but mostly it elongates. It expands and becomes longer. Some actually grow half an inch or even more in length. I've had rices that I've bought, lovely basmati rice, that grows so long. And a little bit of rice becomes a lot of rice. It's absolutely beautiful, and it turns white. And the other thing that we say about rice, especially basmati rice in Northern India, we say that when you cook basmati rice, each grain should be like brothers, close to each other, but not stuck to each other. So I'm going to show you how to wash rice and how you let it soak. And you wash it in a way that we wash dogs as well. You wash it. The first rice water, you shake it and get it out as quickly as possible because rice starts absorbing liquid, and you get it out quickly because you don't want the rice to absorb this dirty liquid. I do it all now automatically. I'm not thinking about all these things. I just know that this is what you and you do it. But for you, if you're doing it for the first time, just remember the reason why you're doing this. You're getting the polish off. When you polish the rice, you're getting that starch off because that starch will make the grains stick to each other. And you're getting the dust off. OK, so five or six times usually does it for me. The water will never run clear. It'll be almost clear. Now, it's pretty much there. And I'm going to leave it to soak for half an hour so the grains will swell a little bit. Now when rice has been soaked, that is another way in which you don't let the grains stick to each other. All right, so I'm going to just cover it well with water, and you just leave it to soak for half an hour. [UPBEAT MUSIC] All right, this is rice here that has been soaked and drained, and I'm ready to start cooking it. So I have a pot. Now, here's the important thing. You want a tight-fitting lid because you want the rice to steam. It's cooking in minimum water, and it's going to steam. You can cook it on top of the stove. You can put it in the oven. I'm going to put it in the oven because it's so much easier. There's noth...

About the Instructor

With more than 30 award-winning cookbooks and a James Beard Foundation Cookbook Hall of Fame Award, Madhur Jaffrey may be the greatest living authority on Indian cuisine. Now she shares those vast and storied traditions with you. Learn 30 authentic recipes: vegetables, breads, South Asian meats, street foods, and more. Blend and layer spices and bring it all together—from the perfect bite to full menus of vibrant flavor.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Madhur Jaffrey

7x James Beard Award winner Madhur Jaffrey teaches you 30 authentic recipes and shares India’s vast culinary traditions and techniques.

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