RECIPE: Getting rice right

As it is National Curry Week we ask '˜The Spice Queen' Parveen Ashraf for her tips on how to cook rice perfectly and whether reheated rice is a no no.

Getting rice right with Parveen Ashraf
Getting rice right with Parveen Ashraf

I think plain boiled rice is one of the easiest dishes to make, but the hardest to get right. In my experience even the most confident cooks will reach for the ‘boil in the bag’ version.

So, I decided to write about rice this week and I will tell you the reason why.

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I bumped into an old friend Jackie at a business breakfast meeting, we had a quick catch up and then a few days later she called me.

Was it to discuss my new book? No. Was it to say she liked my new videos or column? Nope. It was to ask how to make rice properly.

I suppose I should be flattered that she sees me as an authority on rice. Does that mean I can now name myself Parveen The Rice Queen?

Jackie’s main concern is that rice could give you food poisoning and she is absolutely right - it can.

Rice contains spores of bacillus cereus, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. These spores survive when rice is cooked, heated and/or frozen.

To be safe, just follow some simple rules. Once rice has been cooked, either eat it or cool it down and store in the fridge, within one hour. It will sit in the fridge for a couple of days.

To reheat, take out the portion you want, heat and eat. DO NOT heat rice more than once.

I am not a food hygiene expert, so do your own research and learn more about how to cook, store and re-heat rice safely. But just to put your mind at ease, in 30 years of cooking rice I haven’t poisoned my husband once.

OK, enough of the serious stuff, back to what I really know about - yep, recipes.

Follow this simple recipe for boiled rice, which works perfectly with a nice and spicy masala.

I will let you into a little secret, mine does not always turn out perfect. There are so many factors to consider – the brand of the rice, the style of pan, and the type of hob.

So, please do not be disheartened if your rice does not turn out right first time – just keep practicing. The old cliché is true, practice makes perfect.


500g White Basmati rice

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp vegetable oil


1. Place rice in a large bowl. Gently wash through for four to six minutes or until the water runs clear.

2. Soak the rice for an hour in water, this will help the rice swell, so you will have beautiful long grains of rice for your finished dish.

3. Gently transfer the rice to a large pan (with lid). Add 750ml of water, salt and cooking oil, bring to the boil and continue to boil for two to three minutes.

4. Turn heat down to the lowest heat possible, cover pan with lid and simmer for 25 minutes. Leave the rice alone, do not take off the lid to check it, as this interferes with the cooking process.

5. Once it has simmered take off the lid, the rice will have absorbed all the water. You can fluff up with a fork if you wish.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 30 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6 people (when served with a curry).

For more about Parveen Ashraf, visit