Ah, basmati rice. I don't think there is a food that better represents the similarities and differences of Indian Subcontinent and East Asian cultures. Rice is the staple starch in both of these Asian regions, but the preparation couldn't be more different. In the Far East, sticky jasmine rice is typically prepared with every meal. Chopsticks are the utensil of choice, which helps explain the popularity of rice that can stay clumped together on the journey from the bowl to the mouth.
By contrast, the quality of cooked basmati rice is judged primarily by how separate the grains remain. Traditionally, people of the subcontinent eat with their hands, and the various dals and kormas do a great job of creating cohesion.
Preparing basmati rice at home is not nearly as challenging as it may seem, but as is the case with many simple dishes, precision and care are required. Like pasta, if it's cooked past "al dente", basmati rice will become mushy.
I didn't have much experience with basmati rice until I got married. After more than five years, I have not only learned how to make it, I have come to love it. In our home, we make both sticky Asian jasmine rice and Indian basmati rice everyday to satisfy the different palates. We typically eat it with dal, but the girls love to have basmati rice with a little butter and sumac. Sumac is a common Middle Eastern spice and has a deep reddish, purple color. You can see it sprinkled over the rice in the photos.
If you don't have well cooked basmati rice on a regular basis, you don't know what you're missing. I know that for a long time I didn't! Full Recipe...