White Rice for Curry | A Simple Guide

Listen. At some point, we've all ended up with something more akin to porridge than those fluffy grains we are used to seeing in takeaways. But today I'm going to share a secret with you. I want to show you how to make simple white rice for a curry. There's no messing about, no rinsing, washing, and sieving. And the best bit. This is exactly how authentic Indian chefs do it in restaurants. Let's jump right in.

How to Get Perfect White Rice | 6 Golden Rules

I'm going to show you the rice recipe in a moment.

But before we begin, I want to offer you a few tips that will make sure you get perfectly fluffy white rice without any of the faff. Whether you are making a single portion or a huge batch, the below tips will always work.

Make sure you stick to these tips, and I guarantee you'll be good to go:-

Get Your Rice to Water Ratio Right!

Want the good news? You aren't going to need a scale (but I'd recommend it).

Have you ever had to 'top up' your rice halfway through cooking or ended up with a sloppy glutinous mess?

Chances are it's because your ratios were off.

Here's the answer. Remember this…

For a given quantity of rice, you need twice the amount of water.

100g of rice means 200g of water. 1 cup of rice means two cups of water. A pint glass full of rice requires two full pint glasses of water.

Are you getting it? 1 rice, 2 water… Every. Single. Time


You'll hear people say that you shouldn't add salt to the rice.

Yadda yadda, nonsense.

You don't want to add too much (you aren't cooking pasta here). But you should add a pinch. I normally work on a pinch per portion I intend to cook. So, if you are cooking for 8, that's eight pinches of salt.

Provided you've remembered the above rule about water (don't tell me you've forgotten it already!), it won't be too salty.

Start from Cold

Ok. Listen carefully.

Never, ever add boiling rice to water or boiling water to rice. It's just going to mess it up.

Instead, start your water and rice mix from cold on the hob. This will allow you to create a predictable and consistent result every time.

Leave the Lid on

Listen up, peeps! This is important…

Once you've got your water, rice, and salt in the pan. That lid is not to come off until you know the rice is done.

By leaving the lid on, you are preventing the water from disappearing into the air, and instead, it will be soaked up by your rice.

Leave. The. Lid. On!

Temperature Control

When you've added your rice and water to a pan. Stick in straight over the highest heat you can. The aim is to bring that water up to temperature quickly.


We don't stop there. As soon as that pan begins to bubble, turn the temperature down to its lowest setting. Oh, in case you forgot, leave the lid on!

Don't Stir!

The mistake many make is agitating and moving the rice about.

My advice?


When you stir the rice, you release gluten, which makes it turn all soupy and sticky. It's precisely the reason that you do it with risotto. Except…

You don't have risotto. You are making a side dish for a curry.

Ok. Remember the above! Here's the recipe to make perfect white rice for curry!

White Rice for Curry | The Recipe

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep time: 1 minute
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes
  • Calories: 190 per serving




  1. Take a large saucepan and add your rice, followed by the water
  2. Add the salt (don't stir the rice)
  3. Place a lid on the pan and put it on high heat. Keep the lid on!
  4. Once the water begins to bubble, turn the heat down to the lowest setting
  5. Keep an eye on the rice (through the lid). Once the water has been soaked up, you'll notice that tiny 'holes' appear on the upper surface of the rice. This means it's ready. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Let the pan stand for 2-3 minutes, and then, using a fork, fluff the rice into separate grains. Serve immediately.

Should White Rice be Soaked Before Cooking?

This is a common misconception that people apply to rice recipes.

In certain circumstances, white rice can be soaked. This is normally done with glutinous kinds of rice like sushi or risotto rice, where you are actively looking to make it sticky or gooey. This isn't the case when cooking rice for a curry.

So, here's the answer…

No, you don't need to soak white rice for cooking. Provided you follow the golden rules above, you'll get a great result without all the hassle of rinsing, stirring, and soaking your rice!

Can I Substitute Basmati Rice for White Rice?

Yes, you absolutely can.

There are minor nutritional differences between white rice and basmati rice. But for most people, this is negligible. The above recipe will work for both basmati rice and white rice. In fact, you can use the two interchangeably.

Final Thoughts…

Look, guys, white rice isn't meant to be difficult. It is one of the most consumed carbohydrates globally, so it doesn't need to be hard. There's a lot of pretentiousness and received wisdom about cooking white rice.

The technique I describe above is exactly how they do it in Indian restaurants. Do you think those guys have the time (or a sieve big enough) to be rinsing and washing 200+ portions of rice each day? Stick to the above golden rules. Follow the recipe, and I promise you'll have perfect results.

Want more top tips on cooking Indian food? Check out my cooking curry guides for loads of secret tips, straight from Indian takeaway kitchens.

How did it turn out for you? Let me know in the comments.

Enjoy Making Curry Yourself?

Hey folks, thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned something new allowing you to make your curry extra special. Here are a few things that can really elevate your curry game to the next level. 

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I receive a small commission, but this won't cost you any extra. In all honesty, I use very similar items myself, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

A Complete Curry Kit: - Literally, everything you'll need to make curry all in one place. Cookware, storage, utensils, even the spices! This is my dedicated guide to getting you up and running all for the price of few takeaways.

Curry pans: - You need one, and one only. A frying pan exactly like this is really easy to use, and is exactly the type that authentic Indian chefs use to make the type of curry that you'll have in your local takeaway. You can see my full reviews of several pans right here...

Spice Storage: - Being organised is half the battle in making great curry. Spices can be notoriously hard to keep tidy. That's why I tend to use a spice rack like this. You can arrange your spices by size, heat, or any way you choose. I've got a detailed review of several Indian spice racks in this guide.

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