This is the sort of simple rice dish you will want to serve with some dishes when the rice is not intended to compete with the main dish but to accompany it as a nourishing and delicious starch. The object of the exercise is light fluffy separate grains of rice.

Rory says: "This rice is suitable for serving with meat, fish and vegetarian dishes.

"The rice is gently washed in several changes of cold water, then allowed to soak for 30 minutes and strained. It is then cooked in a lot of salted water until slightly undercooked. The cooking water is drained from the rice and the rice is placed in an oven-proof dish, tightly covered and placed in an oven to finish cooking in its own steam. The addition of butter to the rice when it is steaming is optional but delicious.

"Generally the rice is served plain, but sometimes I stir in an appropriate chopped herb just before the rice goes to the table."

Ingredients:

  • Basmati rice, the best of which comes from the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in both India and Pakistan, with its long, slender and perfumed grains is the preferred choice of rice here. Try to find rice that has been aged for a year or longer as this maturing period improves it and increases its nutty aroma.
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 liters water
  • 25g – 40g butter, optional

Method:

  1. Place the rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Gently move the rice around in the bowl with your fingers.
  2. Drain off the cloudy water and repeat this process several times if you have time, or until the water no longer becomes cloudy. Leave the rice soaking in fresh water for 30 minutes and then strain it. The soaking allows the grains of rice to absorb water and as a result they are less likely to stick together when cooking. 
  3. Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and sprinkle in the rice.
  4. Stir gently to separate the grains of rice. Bring back to the boil and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Taste the rice, it should taste a little undercooked. Strain through a sieve or colander. Do not wash it as you will just be washing off precious flavour.
  5. Put in an oven-proof serving dish and dot the surface of the rice with a few knobs of butter if using. Cover the dish carefully and tightly with tinfoil and place in a low oven, 140c / 275 f / gas 1-2, for 15 minutes where the rice will finish cooking.
  6. Remove the foil and stir the rice gently to loosen up the grains before serving.  


Boiled Rice with Herbs:
Flat parsley or coriander leaves

Gently add 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs to the rice just before it goes to the table.


Boiled Rice with Pomegranate and Parsley or Coriander:
Gently add 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds and 1 tablespoon of the chopped herb to the rice just before serving.

Boiled Rice with Lemon and Lemon Balm:
Gently add 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped lemon balm to the rice just before serving.