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Basmati Rice grows in the Himalayan foothills of Northern India and Pakistan. It's a very long-grained white rice that expands greatly, especially lengthwise, as it cooks. Basmati's dry, distinct and fluffy grains make it ideal for Persian and Moghul (North Indian) dishes, but it's also an excellent everyday rice.
1. Put 2 cups of the rice in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Rub the rice and swirl it vigorously with your hand, then drain. Repeat 3 or 4 times, or until the water is clear.
2. Transfer the rice to a heavy 3 1/2 -quart saucepan. Add 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt and stir gently to mix. Let soak for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
3. Bring the rice to a boil over high heat (in its soaking liquid). Lower the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Half-cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes; the water will evaporate and steam holes will appear on the surface of the rice.
4. Cover the pan with the lid wrapped in a cotton towel, reduce the heat to very low and let the rice steam for 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, without lifting the lid, for at least 10 minutes. The rice will be fluffy and there will be a tasty, crusty layer on the bottom of the pan.
Alternatively, you can skip the preliminary soaking and follow the directions and proportions for cooking Thai Jasmine Rice. (MAKES ABOUT 5 1/2 CUPS)
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