How to cook basmati rice

How to cook basmati rice in pot or cooker for a meal

By Swasthi on August 3, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

How to cook basmati rice – This post shares how to cook basmati rice in a pot or cooker for a meal or for biryani. Cooking basmati rice correctly is very crucial to making good biryani or to enjoy with your meal. The aroma and taste of a dum cooked Biryani largely depends on the quality of basmati rice used. Using good quality basmati is not enough, but it has to be cooked right to the correct texture before using it for a dum biryani.

cook basmati rice for biryani

3 different methods of cooking basmati rice

  • 1. To cook it in pot or cooker using draining method. (in the recipe card)
  • 2. Cooking using absorption method. (in the recipe card)
  • 3. How to cook basmati rice for dum biryani. I have shared in detail how to cook basmati rice for different kinds of biryani and the stages.

How to cook basmati rice in pot

1. Always choose premium quality basmati rice that is aged and has been stored in good condition. Wash it well a few times in ample amount of water. Soak for at least 30 to 40 minutes again in apmple amount of water depending on the kind and brand. Some kinds of rice need about 60 minutes plus for the grain to absorb water. This helps the grain to expand well while cooking. Drain the rice.

basmati rice

2. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Usually for 1 cup rice, any where from 4 cups to 5 cups can be used. If you are not using premium quality rice, you should be using up to 5 cups water to get rid of starch completely. Add salt as needed. Taste the water, it has to be slightly salty.

Bring water to a boil and add salt

3. Add in the spices along with 1 tsp to 1 tbsp oil again depending on the quality of rice. Spice like bay leaf, star anise, shahi jeera, cinnamon, cloves and mace can be used. All the spices are optional, but most commonly a bay leaf and some shahi jeera does the job of infusing flavor to the rice. If you do not like to get the whole spices in your biryani then you can also tie them in a muslin cloth and add it to the water. Discard it when the rice is drained.

Add in the spices

4. When the water comes to a boil, allow to boil rapidly. Add the drained rice. Do not stir too much since the rice is soaked for long time it tends to break.

Add the drained rice

When to drain basmati rice

5. When to drain the rice depends on what kind of biriyani you are making.

If making kacchi mutton biriyani, basmati rice has to be half cooked i.e 50% to 60%. The rice expands completely by then, but has to be cooked further which is done during the dum process. Usually yakhni or rice cooked water is also added in small quantity to generate the steam since mutton takes longer time to cook.

half cooked rice

If making kacchi chicken biryani, your rice has to be under cooked or 75% cooked and not al dente. Since the marinade for kacchi biryani has more moisture than the pakki biryani, it has to be under cooked. 25% will be cooked when the meat is dum cooked due to dum released during the process. But how do you identify 75% cooked basmati rice? When you bite into the rice, you will feel the slight rawness in the rice.

cooked and not al dente

Cooking basmati rice for layered biryani

If making pakki biryani – veg biryani, chicken biryani, mutton biryani – Basmati rice has to be 90% cooked i.e cooked to al dente. The rice doesn’t get cooked much in this kind of biriyani since it is dum cooked for short time. Basmati rice turns slightly tender due to the short period of dum/steam.

lucknowi chicken biryani recipe 08

If making only layered biryani – like egg, prawns or fish biriyani – rice has to be cooked to 90 to 100% based on the moisture and the time taken for dum cooking. Rice must be grainy but not mushy. In this kind of biriyani, the dum process does not release any moisture but instead only infuses the flavors.

hyderabadi egg biryani recipe 10

It is always best to follow cooking basmati rice for making biriyani from the biryani recipe you choose to try and not follow a generic one.

how to cook basmati rice

Tips to cook basmati rice

Though basmathi rice for biryani is cooked in a generic method, to what stage it has to be cooked is something tricky and depends entirely on a recipe used to make the biryani. To cook basmati rice for biryani, always follow the instructions mentioned in the biryani recipe and not a generic one. Cooking rice to al dente is not right for all kinds of biryani.

There are so many kinds of basmati rice available in the market among which many are not good enough to use for a dum biriyani making. Using basmati rice that is from the current harvest, low GI rice, unpolished rice and mulberry rice are some of the kinds which do not yield good grainy rice once it is cooked.

Related recipes,
Chicken biryani
Mutton biryani
Veg biryani

How to cook basmati rice

how to cook basmati rice

How to cook basmati rice in pot or cooker for a meal or biryani

This post shares how to cook basmati rice in a pot or cooker for a meal or for biryani. Cooking basmati rice correctly is very crucial to making good biryani or to enjoy with your meal.
Pin Recipe Print Recipe

For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 4 to 5 cups water
  • salt as needed
  • 1 tsp oil

spices as desired

  • 1 small Bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • .5 tsp shahi jeeera or jeera cumin
  • 3 cardamoms
  • 1 strand mace
  • 1 small star anise


  • Wash basmati rice until water runs clear. Soak for atleast 20 to 60 mins depending on the kind of basmati rice. For best results check the pack for soaking time.
  • Drain the water completely.

How to cook basmati rice in pot – Draining method

  • Bring 4 to 5 cups of water to a boil for draining method. For absorption method, just add 1.5 cups water.
  • Add little salt and 1 tsp oil. You can also add some spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, shahi jeera, cardamoms, mace and star anise.
  • When the water begins to boil. Add the rice and cook on a medium high flame until the rice is fully done yet not mushy.
  • Drain to a colander. Sprinkle 1 tsp oil or ghee and fluff up with a fork. For absorption method rice will absorb the water completely. You will just need to cook and fluff up with a fork. 
  • Cover and rest for a while.

Absorption method

  • Add 1 tbsp oil or ghee to a pot or cooker. Add the spices and saute for 1 min. 
  • Then add drained rice and fry on a high flame for 1 to 2 mins. Stirring occasionally. Fry method works only when aged basmati rice us used. 
  • Pour 1.5 hot water and add salt. Cook on a medium heat until the rice absorbs water. Or cover and pressure cook for 1 whistle on a medium high flame.
  • Fluff up the rice gently.

Method 3 – Cooking basmati rice for biryani

  • Please follow the instructions in the step by step photo guide below.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
How to cook basmati rice in pot or cooker for a meal or biryani
Amount Per Serving
Calories 376 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Sodium 14mg1%
Potassium 139mg4%
Carbohydrates 77g26%
Fiber 2g8%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 30IU1%
Vitamin C 0.7mg1%
Calcium 37mg4%
Iron 1.6mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.

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Hi, nice chicken biryani recipe.
Which brand basmati rice r u using for biryani?

Yummy recipe

Hi, did you use black salt or pink himalayan salt?

Great article Swasthi! God bless you dear..