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Basmati Rice with Potato Crust

Basmati Rice with Potato Crust

The key to making basmati rice is to partially cook it first in boiling water, then to steam it until cooked through. If you cook the rice for too long in the boiling water, you will have a lumpy mess after you steam it. Recipe by Laura Bashar of Family Spice



  1. In a medium-sized bowl soak with water:
    • 3 cup basmati rice
  2. Gently wash the rice by stirring the rice in the water with your hand. This helps wash some of the starch and grit out. Pour out the water and repeat two more times.
  3. After washing the rice a third time, let the rice soak in:
    • 8 cup water
    • 1 TBS salt
  4. In a small bowl mix:
    • 1 TBS hot water
    • 2 TBS butter, unsalted , melted
    • 1/2 tsp saffron , crushed
  5. Bring to boil in a 5-quart non-stick pot:
    • 8 cup water
    • 1 TBS salt
  6. When the water has come to boil, pour out the water in the bowl containing the soaking rice. Add the wet rice to the boiling water.
  7. When the water comes to boil again and the rice floats to the top of the pot (approx. 6 mins), pour the contents of the pot into a fine colander. You know your rice is ready to strain if you bite a rice kernel and the center is still uncooked.
  8. Return the pot to the burner, set heat to medium and add:
    • 1 1/2 TBS vegetable oil
    • 1 russet potatoes , cut into 1/4-inch thick circles
  9. Using a spatula, gently scoop the drained rice into the pot. Make sure you do not push the rice in together as this will result in mushy rice. Scatter the rice throughout the pot, in a pyramid shape until finished. Your pot should not be filled to the top. You will need about 3 inches between the top of your rice and the top of the pot. If you must tap the rice off of your spatula, do not tap it against the pot. This will move the rice in the pot and press them together. Tap your spatula against the colander.
  10. Using the handle of a long wooden spoon or another utensil, gently press several holes around the rice down to the potato crust. This will allow the steam to travel freely through the pot. Pour the saffron mixture over the top of the rice.
  11. Cover the lid of your pot with a clean towel or several paper towels, and set firmly over your pot to prevent steam from escaping. The towel will keep the condensation from dropping back into your rice and turning the rice into mush.
  12. After 7 minutes, lower the heat to low and let the rice finish cooking for another 45 mins. You will know your rice is done because it has fluffed up. Another trick to see if your rice is down is to lick your finger and quickly touch your wet finger against the side of the hot pot. If you hear a sizzle sound, your rice is done (and hopefully your finger isn't burned!).
  13. To serve, you can place a large round platter over the top of the pot, then carefully invert the pot and remove gently. This will create a cake-effect, with the potato crust showing on top. Or, you can use a spatula to gently remove the rice and scatter on your serving platter, creating a pyramid-effect, placing the crunchy potatoes on top or surrounding the rice.

Basmati Rice with Potato Crust  Detail

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 min

Difficulty: Intermediate
Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1/2 cup uncooked rice

Serving Suggestions: Rice can be served two different ways. First, you can place a large plate over the top of your pot. The plate must be large enough to cover your pot with plenty of room to spare. Grab the plate and pot handles and carefully lift the pot and flip it over so the pot is facing down on the plate. Put the plate on the table and gently wiggle and lift the pot up.This method is pictured above. A second option is to use a spatula to gently scoop the rice out and onto the platter. On the bottom you will find the crust (called "ta-dig") and you can place the pieces along the platter (pictured below).

Cooking Tips: If you have undercooked your rice during the boiling stage and your rice isn't cooked after 45 minutes, you can add a couple teaspoons of water to the rice, cover the pot again and have the new steam help finish the cooking. If your crust is soggy, leave it in the pot and let it sit under medium-high heat until crunchy. If your crust won't come out of the pot, stick the bottom of the pot in a sink filled with a couple inches of cold water. This will help the crust come out.