Vegan Indian Basmati Rice Recipe

Easy vegan basmati rice recipe in a pot

The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 3 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
176 Calories
10g Fat
21g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving
Calories 176
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 370mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 45mg 3%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 124mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Wondering how that lovely, fragrant, and flavorful white basmati rice is made in Indian restaurants?It isn't hard to duplicate the flavors at home with this recipe, which happens to be suitable for many diets, as it's vegan and gluten-free. Basmati rice is a type of long-grain rice known for its light, nutty flavor and floral aroma, and India produces more than half the world's supply.

This restaurant-style Indian-flavored basmati rice recipe is seasoned with cinnamon, whole cloves, and peppercorns with a bay leaf. The rice is toasted in olive oil and onion, along with the spices, which create layers of flavor. All of this combines to create a wonderfully aromatic and tasty rice side to accompany just about any Indian vegetable meal. Plant-based eaters can pair this simple rice side with Indian-spiced dal, curried vegetables, or any kind of vegetarian curry for a basic and easy vegetarian meal.


  • 1 cup basmati rice

  • Water, as needed, for soaking

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or peanut oil

  • 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick

  • 1 leaf bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 whole clove, or 2 to 3 if desired

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

  • 1 large onion, chopped thinly

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Indian basmati rice

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

  2. Cover the basmati rice with water in a small bowl and set aside. Allow the rice to soak for 20 minutes.

    Soak basmati rice in water

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

  3. Once the rice is done soaking (after 20 minutes), drain any excess water and move on to the next step.

  4. Over medium heat, warm the olive oil or peanut oil in a sauté pan or large skillet and add the cinnamon stick (break it in half), bay leaf, cumin seeds, whole clove, and peppercorns. Warm these spices for just 10 to 15 seconds, then add the chopped onion and heat until the onion is well cooked, about 6 to 8 minutes.

    Olive oil in pan with cinnamon, bay leaf, cumin, and cloves

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

  5. Add the soaked but uncooked basmati rice to the pan. Toast it, stirring, for 20 to 30 seconds, just until lightly browned, then add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.

    Toast the rice with the seasonings

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

  6. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and allow the rice to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until rice is cooked through and liquid is absorbed. You can stir occasionally, as needed. 

    Fluffy Indian basmati rice in a pot

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

Should You Wash Basmati Rice?

Washing and rinsing the rice helps the rice to be less sticky when you cook it, which is helpful for long-grain varieties such as basmati. However, this recipe takes the prep a step further by soaking the rice. Basmati's fragrant compounds dissipate the longer they are cooked in heat, so soaking it beforehand helps shorten the cooking process by softening the grains, and also produces a more flavorful result.


  • You can, if needed, use any kind of rice in this recipe, but the delicate shape and natural fragrance of basmati rice make this dish so successful. Look for another long-grain varietal if you can't find basmati.

How to Store and Freeze Basmati Rice

Rice will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. For longer storage, you can absolutely freeze rice. It's great to store in zip-close freezer bags in portion sizes that work for you or your family. Frozen rice will keep for about a month. Thaw in the refrigerator or in the microwave with a little bit of water to help rehydrate the rice as it reheats. You can also simply toss it into a dish, frozen and it will reheat as everything cooks.