I know that all types of rice need soaking, but sometimes there are water shortages and I would like to skip this step to save water. How can I cook Basmati rice without a separate soaking step?

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    Are you talking about the kind of "soaking" where you add the already correct amount of water, let it stand for half an hour or so, then turn up the heat, and cook it as normally? Probably not - takes the same amount of water as cooking it right away then letting it steam (and I think the soaked version tastes better). Or are you talking about a cleaning process that uses multiple changes of water? – rackandboneman Nov 3 at 21:22
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Basmati doesn't need to be soaked, and anyway the water that gets absorbed in soaking would get absorbed in boiling instead. This is because the rice needs to do two things: hydrate, and heat, and the amount it needs to hydrate is fixed.

Rinsing is common and is much more wasteful of water than soaking. In fact if you measure the water, and soak then boil covered in the same water, all the water you use a ends up consumed (except a tiny amount lost to evaporation). 2:1 water:rice by volume should be about right for basmati, and cook gently.

Rinsing affects the surface starch, and it takes quite a lot of water to remove enough starch to prevent stickiness. You have to either tolerate some stickiness or find a good way to reuse the rinsing water, if you're going to save this. I wouldn't want to give too much starchy water to plants, though you could certainly give them some. It should be possible to use this water in cooking, to add to dishes that need a little thickening, but it shouldn't be stored for long.

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