When I get Indian takeout (US), the white rice is not at all sticky or clumpy. Even over the next few days it can be essentially poured out of the container as individual grains. This is unlike the rice in say, Chinese takeout, which is much stickier and in a single mass.

I have a very simple rice cooker. (It has the settings "white rice" and "brown rice".) How can I use this rice cooker, and any necessary preparation/finalization steps or types of rice, to produce rice like I get from Indian takeout? Ideally that can be eaten straight out of the rice cooker, but I'm willing to be flexible if necessary.

  • See cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/93336/… Personally, I had a rice cooker for about a year before I just threw it away. I can make far better rice [of any type] just in a pan than it could make.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 16:56
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    Tetsujin: rice cookers have an enormous convenience value, in that you don't have to watch them at all. And good ones do perfectly good rice, even if you can do slightly better on the stovetop.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 23:14
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    @Tetsujin a lot of countries exclusively use rice cookers, and even where people are happy to spend many hours cooking speciality dishes, they still use rice cookers, because it works perfectly. However it is an absorption method, which works well with high GI rice, but if you have a rice best cooked by some other method, such as Basmati, then maybe it's not the best. However a couple of billion people eat the same high GI rice every day, and they cook it in rice cookers. It is rather unlikely that you could consistently cook their rice better than their CPU-controlled rice cookers.
    – thelawnet
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 18:33
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    @Tetsujin I'm sure your rice is fine - it sounds like the problem was with your rice cooker, as a good one will work perfectly.
    – thelawnet
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 18:43
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    @FuzzyChef The convenience of a rice cooker is dependent on various factors, including things like how much space you have on your counter vs your stove and how much time you have. Rice cookers typically take quite a bit longer to cook rice than cooking it on the stove, and rice cookers take up considerable counter space. For me these two factors make having one a non-starter, so I'm with Tetsujin on this. But as they say YMMV.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 19:07

4 Answers 4


First, use basmati rice. Then, rinse your rice very well. Place rice in bowl, fill with cold water, drain, repeat until the water runs clear. I find that using the correct variety of rice, combined with good rinsing, helps keep the long grains separate.

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    Also not buying the cheapest rice available really helps. When I would buy the cheapest available basmatic, the quality of the rice kernels themselves varied greatly, with many broken, split or damaged grains, which would tend to stick/glob up. Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 23:22
  • I second washing the rice many times (until the water runs clear). Marginally reducing the water used in the rice cooker also helps (by about 15%) - at least it did in my case.
    – abligh
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 18:53

There are many different ways of cooking rice, and you might not want to use a rice cooker if you really want individual grains, as it was developed for cuisines / rice varieties that are stickier.

Although moscafj mentioned basmati, which is a very long grain variety of rice that's from India, and tends to cook up less sticky ... you might also consider "parboiled" rice which tends to not stick together at all. But I suspect that you would have to vary the amount of water used so it doesn't become a big glob.

There's a technique of cooking rice in which you cook it like pasta -- in a large amount of water, and then drain it. This should reduce surface starch and prevent it from clumping. There are variations on this where you boil it part way, drain it, then steam to finish (possibly fluffing it up as it steams to make sure it doesn't develop clumps)

And then there's pilaf / plau / pulao style of cooking rice ... in which you first cook the rice (and possibly some finely diced vegetables, or even meat) in some oil or butter, then add the water, cover, and bake it. This tends to result in more individual grains of rice, provided you don't develop a socarrat / tahdig (the crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pot, like in paella making).

If you're really set on using a rice cooker, I would specifically put in less water than it called for, and then check the rice once it switches over to warm, and check to see if it's cooked through. If it isn't, I'd add a little more water and turn it back on. (mechanical switch rice cookers might need a minute or two to cool before you can turn it back to 'cook', due to how the mechanism works).

Once it's cooked through, use a fork to 'fluff' the rice, dumping the loosened rice into a sheet pan, casserole pan, directly onto people's plates, or some other wide vessel that lets you spread out the rice without it being too deep.) If you see any clumps, use your fork to break it up, or clean hands to try to 'rub' grains apart like you would couscous.

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    As an added bonus for parboiling, a study that came out very recently found that parboiling rice first may substantially reduce arsenic levels in rice. Rice tends to accumulate arsenic more-so than a lot of other grains because of the way it is grown in flooded fields. Source: scitechdaily.com/…
    – anjama
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 15:11
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    Note that your "pasta style" method using extra water and discarding it will significantly reduce nutrients (like vitamins) in the rice; avoiding that while reducing arsenic was the point of the research @anjama cited. Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 1:04

The reason why the two types of rice that you mentioned are different in texture is because Indian takeout restaurants generally use white Basmati rice, Chinese takeout restaurants generally use white Jasmine rice. They are different rice varieties that were selectively bred over generations from wild Asian rice. Basmati rice has a lower glycemic index than Jasmine rice, so it contains more simple starches and does not stick together as much as Jasmine rice does.

Indian takeout restaurants do not typically use rice cookers to cook their rice, as Basmati does not cook in the same way that Jasmine does. Instead, it is generally cooked on the stovetop using vegetable oil in the process, shown here.

  • There are three different methods in the instructions you linked to. You might be able to use the "microwave" instructions but replace the microwaving steps with the rice cooker. Although I suspect you'd get better results with the other two.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 14:32

The process is very simple. Buy long-grain basmati rice. Allow to soak for 10-15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly (water should run clear), then add the water and operate your rice cooker as normal. Make sure to fluff the rice as soon as it's done. This may not be the way most Indian restaurants do it but the results are indistinguishable.

  • Cooking non-fluffy basmati rice can be even simpler than this. Put one measure of rice and two measures of cold water (measuring by volume) in a large pan. (The pan should be only 1/4 full or less, otherwise it may bubble over when simmering.) Optionally, add a little salt. Heat on full until it starts to simmer, then simmer for 10 minutes. All the water will have been absorbed by the rice. Job done. No soaking, washing, or special purpose rice cooker necessary.
    – alephzero
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 16:00
  • @alephzero If you already have a rice cooker, as the OP does, I think it's the easiest thing to do to use it. You don't have to pay any attention, after all.
    – Casey
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 16:16

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