Baafaela chawal

Baafaela chawal

Boiled rice

Mr Todiwala's Bombay
Helen Cathcart

Baafaela chawal is Gujarati for boiled rice, it’s oobla hua chawal in Hindi. It doesn’t have to be just plain cooked, though: we often add fragrant flavourings as in this recipe but you can omit them if you prefer. There are several different ways to cook rice – it can be steamed or cooked by the absorption method but here we’ve used the draining method which produces lovely fluffy grains.


Quantity Ingredient
500g basmati rice
3-4 litres water
1-2 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
or a good knob butter
1-2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
5 cm piece cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods, split
1-2 bay leaves
1 blade mace
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted


  1. Wash the rice gently, drain and set aside for 15–30 minutes.
  2. Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan with the oil or butter and the salt. Add the rice and all the flavourings and stir slowly for the first 2–3 minutes to separate all the grains. Some rice takes as little as 6–8 minutes to cook, others about 10, so check the packet directions. Test frequently. The rice should be tender but still with some ‘bite’.
  3. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. Fluff up the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Leave the spices in the rice or remove, if preferred.
  4. The reserved liquid can be used for cooking. In my house it gets converted into nice soups for the family, either with diced vegetables and herbs and some meat if you like, or it is converted into a creamed soup where a mixture of vegetables are simmered in it then the whole lot puréed.
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