What’s your rice?

RiceRice is a word that conjures happy thoughts. It is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by the humans. There are many varieties of rice and culinary preferences tend to vary regionally. In the Far East, there is a preference for softer and stickier varieties. Because of its importance as a staple food, rice has considerable cultural importance. Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility. Therefore, there is the custom of throwing rice at weddings.

Rice is consumed in numerous forms, and is the base of many legendary dishes. Every part of the world has its own favourites – like red beans and rice in southern USA, paella in Spain, rice pudding and kedgeree in the UK, fried rice in China, sticky rice in most of South East Asia, sushi in Japan, in a zillion forms in India and rest of the world.

Given below is a most informative and interesting discussion that was recently had at the Indian Food Freak forum at Facebook on individual rice preferences. Enjoy reading it!

Aalok Wadhwa

Controversial question on a Sunday morning: Isn’t basmati rice overrated? Atleast I think so. A mutton curry or sambhar taste infinitely better with a short grain rice.

Jacky Pasha Zaman I ditto your feelings Aalok

Rhea Mitra-Dalal The basmati that’s generally available is a far cry from what genuine Basmati is supposed to be. There is simply no fragrance, not even in the

Irfan Ahmed Appropriate for/with some dishes, not all for sure. Strongly flavored curries, esp. South Indian, need a neutral rice, not one with its own flavor. I’ve told a couple of desi restaurateurs to not use basmati in kheer — total clash of flavors.

Sandipa Nitin Tombat I never use Basmati, here in Maharashtra we have Dhubraj that is fragrant and the other short gain rice varieties that are very good to make rice dishes ………….

Balvinder Saluja I agree with you Aalok Ji….Me born & brought up in Bengal can vouch for it. A variety called “Gobindbhog” is amazing. Also I love the what we call “Mote Chawal”; goes amazingly well with all types of curries

Priyanka Vats lol— ur right… infact while in kolkata i bought govind bhog rice especially to be relished with masoor daal and other gravy dishes.

Sandhya Nag Since we ve been living in aus…we r eating only basmati rice…..as it is a low gi rice… But every rice has its own plus nd minuses……normal rice with andhra pickles have a vow factor

Aalok Wadhwa Rhea, to research my hypothesis I have checked the best quality Pakistani rice too with looooong graisn and lots of fragrance. But apart from biryani/pulaos my conclusions remained the same. In fact my favourite biryani, the

Aalok Wadhwa Balvinder, Priyanka, same pinch. I use only gobindobhog rice, unless I have some guests over, where I am forced to cook India Gate basmati!

Farah Pasha bingo……………personally i dont like basmati rice

Irfan Ahmed Another peeve I have with Basmati sold in the U.S. is that sometimes the rice takes on the smell of jute from the bags, which is horrible. When they say aged, I wonder if they age the rice in the jute bags?

Rhea Mitra-Dalal In the race to commercialise staples like rice and in the effort to produce it in vast quantities, Basmati has lost most of its personality. Thank God for lesser known, more local varieties like Gobindo bhog, Ambe Mohor, etc., which still retain much of their fragrance and flavour.
I use ambe mohor the most, gobindobhog only to make payesh, or when I’m making a Bong meal, and Basmati is reserved for Biryanis and Pullaos.
The worst misuse of Basmati is when it is used in Chinese restaurants for fried rice – makes no sense to me at all.

Bhavna Kalra The Basmati that I get here in Australia is so bad it has no fragrance at all. I remember many many years ago when mom cooked Basmati on special occasions the whole house was filled with this fragrance that one associated with Basmati. But I haven’t experienced that in so many years now. So I generally buy normal rice now

Sisir Kalita i personally prefer old Joha rice over any other rice…try it people!

Rhea Mitra-Dalal When I was a kid, if my dad went to Delhi on a work related trip, he would invariably come back with ‘Dilli rice’ or Basmati. We kids would open the pack and just inhale.. even the raw rice smelled so beautiful.

Farah Pasha and if u are do not get the Joha rice you can always use Gobindo Bhog which is excellent too…..

Shefali Nigam Mansingh Depends on what you are having with rice.

Anuradha Datta Joha(grown in Assam)–specially the kola joha is excellent for pulao and biryani—the flavour is something you’ll never forget.Can anyone give me the brand name of any basmati that has the original flavour?

Balvinder Saluja Aalok Ji the fat grain rice I was talking about is called “Khajurchuri”. You must give it a try. It will go well with almost all the Indian curries. Very versatile

Sandeepa-BongMom Cookbook yep. and then a lot of the basmati brands are not even half as good as the sona masoori I prefer on most days

Aalok Wadhwa Balvinder which region does karjurchuri belong to?

Balvinder Saluja Aalok it is a Bengal variety and is readily available here

Shefali Saxena Where do you get good short grain rice (give me some names also please) and Gobindbhog rice in gurgaon. The more expensive the basmati rice brand is, the more bland and boring it is, have tried all Kohinoor, India gate etc. For oriental cuisine, a Thai lady recommended GRM basmati rice which she said was closest to Jasmine Rice she had found here, its slightly sticky and quite flavoursome unlike other basmatis (In Gurgaon its available for around Rs 100/kg in the Korean shop in the basement in DT Mega Mall, havent seen it in the usual grocery super stores).

Anuradha Datta I think aged rice if it’s the same as Purona chawal in Assamese means the paddy is aged in barns before it is dehusked—-it never gets pasty as happens with new rice

Sisir Kalita black joha is kinda rare nowdays…n joha rice is aged 2 lose the stickyness…

Rhea Mitra-Dalal If you step out of the supermarkets and visit the wholesale bajaar you will be surprised at the varieties available and at a much better price. Not everything that is available makes it to the supermarket shelves. A trip to the wholesale bajaar even once in 3 months is good enough to stock up

Jayita Sengupta Sen Parboiled or sela longrained much tastier.

Balvinder Saluja @Rhea: I agree; but it can get confusing at times; even for someone like me from Bengal

Sarraju Narasinga Rao  For pulao and biryani, Basmati is a very desirable option. Especially if it is “No.4268 Special Old Malai”. I’ve found that Afghani sela also works beautifully for this purpose.
To eat with dals, sambars, and all manner of meats and fish and vegetables cooked, stewed, curried or even fried, Sona Masoori is extremely desirable. I believe there are a few cultivars that are together called SonaMasoori.
The common features of these are a medium grain, cooks fluffy with just the right amount of adhesion between grains and grows in several parts of India. In my home state, the best rice of this family comes from Nellore or Kurnool.
Aging is a terribly important thing for rice. New rice has far too much available starch that releases into the pot on cooking and makes the rice glutinous and sticky and sometimes even a bit slimy. I’m not a plant biochemist, but I deduce from that aging transforms these available starches and somehow fixes them so they don’t leech out into the pot. Six months to a year is considered acceptable by most people in this day and age of instant gratification and JIT supply chains. But that’s people who don’t taste what they eat.
Anything less than 18 months of aging is sacrilege.
Rhea Mitra-Dalal Balvinder Infact, it is actually easier. In the market there are open sacks.You can scoop up a handful, feel the texture of the grains, see the size, smell the fragrance and get a better idea of what to buy. In a supermarket all you can compare is the information the on the packet.
P.S. I simply love markets.. the hustle bustle, the crowds, the colours, sounds, smells!

Sarraju Narasinga Rao Yes Rhea Mitra-Dalal – the dominant smells in a wholesale market – red chillies, garlic, grain and dal dust, cinnamon, onion – are oddly invigorating.

Bindu Pandit Basmati: Tilda: full stop.

Padma Anagol Totally agree with you Aalok….I don’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about over basmati rice!!

Arati Sikand Rao Absolutely agree! !! Aalok

Prema Raghuraman I don’ t know about other cuisines, but basmati is a strict no no for south indian cuisine. Basmati is crap these days. As someone mentioned earlier, no fragrance or taste like I remember from my childhood days. I use it for khichdi, pulavs and viriyanis. Or plain to be had with simple varan or Maharashtrian style dal :)) I find surti kolam to be very tasty while ambe mohar to be absolutely fragrant and tasty. The only thing is they have to be a bit aged.

Sandipa Nitin Tombat even Gujarat Kolam is good….

Roma Patil Basmati.. Our local one has good flavor Aalok ….. Besides its texture is very pleasant to chew into.. Like chewing into something buttery…… Short grain rice.. Sona Masoori, or Kali Gajwel, or Jirga, ghansaal, have flavor, but are a bit tough to bite into. You feel,the grain slipping out of your teeth, as you bite into them. Besides this grain does not incorporate with the daal. They both are distinctly divorced throughout…so Basmati it is… Anytime…

Anu Varshney Hooked to basmati. Can’t stand any other variety. Use it even for spanish and chinese fried rice too.

Radhika Mukerjee its basmati for me.I even make khichdi with it.

Aalok Wadhwa So it looks like a majority shuns basmati in favour of regional

Sandipa Nitin Tombat what an apt conclusion

Aalok Wadhwa Unity in diversity!

Sandipa Nitin Tombat 100 % correct

Padma Anagol: Aalok, being from Belgaum, I fail to understand the fuss over basmati rice cause eveyone here swears by it

Aalok Wadhwa Just curious – is there any other long grain rice apart from basmati?

Maneesh Srivastva The logest grain available in india is 1121..which comes in sella and basmati both….i use basmati rice which i get from dehradun…orignal and full of fragrance  otherwise i use 1121 golden sella for general purpose

Sandipa Nitin Tombat Dhubraj is relatively long grained and fragrant compared to the various varieties of Ko

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