Basmati Rice with Crisped Grains

Basmati rice has a unique elegant, fragrant flavour. This method of cooking is based on the Egyptian way of almost burning the rice on the bottom of the pan and then scraping up the toasted grains to mix them with the rest.


  • 250 g (8 oz) basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in salted water for 1 hour
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, each about 2.5-5 cm (l-2 in) long
  • 300-450 ml (½-¾ pint) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Drain the soaked rice. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the cinnamon sticks and rice and stir. Stir in the water and salt, then bring to the boil. Cover the saucepan tightly, reduce the heat to as low as possible and cook for 10–14 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is tender but still has a slight bite to it. Put a tea towel between the lid and the top of the rice, tying the corners together on top of the lid so that they don’t burn. Increase the heat to as high as possible – this is to toast the bottom layer of rice and takes about 8–12 minutes, occasionally more depending on individual stoves. Don’t try to stir the rice to see if the bottom is browning. Instead look at the top rim of the rice – when you see that the sides are beginning to brown, it will be ready. In my experience it hardly ever burns too much.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave on one side for 10 minutes. Fork the rice out on to a serving plate, scraping out all the toasted bottom and forking the crisp, brown grains among the rest of the rice.