Cookbook:Microwave Cooking/Microwaved Basmati Rice

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Microwaved Pure Basmati Rice -- using a 'Rice Cooker'[edit]

A Typical Microwave Rice Cooker. The item is essentially a plastic bowl with a two-part fastening lid. The lid design allows venting while preventing the loss of water from overflow. These cheap items remove all of the 'adventure' from rice cooking in the microwave.

The term 'Pure Basmati' refers to a delicate product that is plain basmati rice of high quality, as opposed to ordinary basmati, wholegrain, wild, or rice prepared in any way to speed cooking times. Basmati is a particular variety of rice, and for other varieties, even within white rice varieties, the simmering times might need to be modified. However, the cooking times in this recipe can also be applied to 'Fragrant Jasmine Rice', (sometimes called 'Thai Basmati' or 'Thai Jasmine' rice), the only difference for it being that it should not have any standing time before serving. Refer to the external link at the bottom of this page for a comparison of the simmering times of various rice varieties.

For four portions or so, the simmering time for rice in a microwave at 350W is virtually identical to its cooking time in a pot on the range, and if you are lucky enough to have microwave cooking times on a package of rice, by all means make use of them. The cooking of rice is an exception to most microwave dishes in that it need not be stirred at all during the cooking, and this recipe is quite tolerant of small changes in weight. A table has been provided with the times for other quantities.

Preparation time 30 minutes; cooking time 12 minutes. Serves Two Adults

The Recipe[edit]

This recipe was tested several times by the author, using a cheap plastic microwave 'rice cooker', a bowl with a fastening double lid. On each occasion it produced a light, very white, fragrant and delicate result. When an ordinary bowl and cover were used, there was chaos; too much foaming and spillage for consistent results.


  • 150g (180ml) of Pure Basmati rice, measured dry, to make two adult portions.
  • 360ml (360g) of boiling water; added to well-drained rice that was first soaked for 30 minutes..
  • Two pinches of salt.
  • One teaspoon of cooking oil.


  • Microwave oven with 750W and 350W settings.
  • Microwave Rice Cooker -a microwave-safe plastic bowl with a special double lid.
  • Sieve to drain the rice.
  • Kitchen scales that measure in grams. This avoids any error about cup sizes etc.


  • Soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes, changing the water several times.
  • Drain the rice well, removing as much excess water as possible. Mix the drained rice with the boiling water, salt and oil.
  • Fit the rice cooker's lids
  • Cook in the microwave at 750 Watts for 4 minutes, then
  • Reduce power to 350 Watts and cook for a further 8 minutes.
  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes then lightly fork through to separate the grains.
  • Serve hot, though cooked rice that has had a chance to dry, then re-heated, is even better.

Other Quantities[edit]

If the quantities are changed then so too must the cooking times be changed. See the following table.

Microwave Rice Cooker Data for Pure Basmati
Rice weighed dry; then rice soaked for 30 minutes; drained, combined...
Heading One One+ One++ Two Two+ Three Three+ Four
Weight of Rice 63 g 75 g 90 g 125 g 150 g 190 g 225 g 250 g
Boiling Water 190 ml 220 ml 240 ml 320 ml 360 ml 450 ml 550 ml 600 ml
First: Heating time at 750W 3 mins 3 mins 3.5 mins 4 mins 4 mins 5 mins 5 mins 30 secs 6 mins
Second: Simmer time at 350W n/a n/a n/a 8 mins 8 mins 9 mins 9 mins 10 mins
Alternative Simmer time at 160W 15 mins 15 mins 16 mins 17 mins 17 mins 20 mins 20 mins 22 mins
Third: Standing Time 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins 5 mins


  • Table entries in green have been tested and worked well using the described recipe method.
  • Table entries in white are calculated from the base recipe but are still under test.
  • Table entries marked as n/a need the lower power option.

Fault Finding on Cooked Rice[edit]

If at times, because of adjusted quantities and temperatures, imprecise timings, or the rice itself, the results may not be as expected. A few of the more common symptoms are listed here.

  • Rice is cooked well but a little wet. The cause is most likely just an excess of water in the initial mixture. It might not be necessary to change the cooking times provided that the absorption water is reduced a little in future. It is also possible that the rice was not well enough drained before adding the measured amount of water. Spread the rice on a baking tray and dry it in a conventional oven.
  • Rice is not wet but is too soft. This indicates that the rice has been cooked too long, or that the variety of rice is not the one expected.
  • Rice is both wet and too soft. The amount of water and the cooking times need to be reduced.
  • Rice is not wet but is a bit chewy or firm in the middle of the grains. This indicates that the amount of water was insufficient. Either the recipe needs slightly more water, or too much water was lost by spillage. Such a batch can sometimes be repaired by adding a little water to the firm rice, and continuing the simmering stage for a little longer; the process could be repeated as necessary.
    • In the first case the solution is to use a little more water in future.
    • In the case of spillage, use only a microwave rice cooker of the correct capacity.
    • If a single portion, see the notes below on small portion problems.

Foaming and Spillage[edit]

There are two related issues in the cooking of rice in the microwave; rice water foams when it is near boiling point, and in addition, during microwave 'simmering', more of a switching on and off really, there is a intermittent swelling of the entire wet mixture coincident with each burst of energy; that is, for a few seconds every few seconds. These two matters cause the possibility of water loss during the first boiling, and spillage of the contents during simmering. These problems are overcome entirely with the use of a microwave rice cooker; a plastic tight-lid container that is designed to trap foaming while allowing hot air to escape.

The use of an ordinary bowl is not recommended, since without the rice cooker's double lid to trap the foaming, there will be too much spillage. The use of an uncovered bowl reduces foaming height but is likely to produce a rice that is a bit hard on the top surface. If there is a solution using an ordinary bowl it is likely to involve simmering with a covered bowl and lower power settings, after just bringing the solution back to a boil uncovered.

Small Portion Problems[edit]

As portions become small, the errors in times calculated from formulae become apparent, and rice tends to go wrong. The most noticeable defects are that it is hard, seemingly lacking water, and chewy in the middle. The rice will appear to simply suffer from too little water, or not enough cooking, but these problems are just as likely to result from the very short simmer times that simple formulae predict for high powers. That is, the times are too short for effective water transport to take place.

Because rice cannot absorb water at an unlimited rate, the dependence on calculated power delivery makes sense only when the calculated cooking times exceed the time needed by the rice for absorption. That is to say, using a very high power for a very short time will not necessarily obtain the same result as its longer time equivalent, even for the same delivered energy.

A better result is to be had by choosing a lower simmer power (160W), with increased simmer times (X 2.2), since this gives a fatter, lighter product than is to be had from faster cooking. This is likely to be the case for longer cooking times in general, and the avoidance of the absorption time limit will more likely provide results that lend themselves to calculation. The penalty is of course that cooking takes longer at lower power settings. The table above gives normal and long simmer times in case these are needed.

Note that the first cooking stage is just to get the mixture to boiling point before the simmering so it has less of an effect on the outcome.

See Also[edit]

External Links[edit]

  • Cooking Basmati Rice : A rice producer's internet page with fairly clear instructions on different methods for the cooking of Basmati rice, and a table of cooking times for different rice types.