Basmati rice is my go-to variety for cooking most rice-based dishes! In addition to being great for your everyday meal, it’s also one of the most popular rice varieties for more extravagant dishes like biryani or pilaf.
Now, you might wonder, what is so special about basmati rice?
Basmati rice is famous for its aroma, texture, and distinctive flavor. It has a fruity fragrance and nutty taste absent in many other rice varieties. Due to less starch, basmati rice doesn’t get too sticky or mushy while cooking. Its fluffy grains are perfect for cooking flavorful dishes.
In this article, we will discuss more about basmati rice and its culinary benefits in detail.
What is Basmati Rice?
Basmati rice originates from the lush-green foothills of the Himalayas in the Indian subcontinent. It’s a type of long-grain rice variety known for its slender appearance and aromatic smell.
If you are unaware, we traditionally group rice grains into three categories based on the rice’s shape and size: long grain, medium grain, and short grain. Long-grain rice, like basmati, is elongated, cylindrical, and thin.
Since basmati rice is a long-grain variety, the uncooked grains measure around 9.1 millimeters.
The surprising fact is that after cooking, these grains may reach a length of 18-20 millimeters easily; they practically double up in size after cooking.
What Is So Special About Basmati Rice?
In the Indian subcontinent, many people call basmati rice “The King of Rice.”
Let’s talk about why it’s so popular and continues to remain a favorite of people.
Aroma of Basmati Rice
If there’s one thing that sets basmati rice apart from the other rice varieties, it’s the aroma. The word “Basmati” itself means “fragrant” in Hindi.
Basmati rice grains have a fresh and fruity aroma even before cooking.
In fact, just smelling these grains teleports my mind to the breathtaking meadows of the Himalayas.
However, the fragrance of uncooked basmati rice is nothing compared to the smell of freshly steamed grains.
When you cook basmati rice, it develops a nutty and floral fragrance, which spreads throughout the entire house. You can even use it as a room air freshener. Just kidding!
Now, let’s understand the science behind why basmati rice is more aromatic than other rice types.
Scientists have discovered that most rice varieties contain 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, which is responsible for a unique fragrance. This compound is present in meager amounts in other rice types, whereas, in basmati, it’s about 12 times more potent!
Texture of Basmati Rice
Long-grain rice, like basmati rice, has one significant benefit over other rice types. It is longer and fluffier.
Basmati rice grains don’t stick together, even after cooking. You’ll notice that each grain is separate from the rest. Plain white rice does not exhibit this characteristic, even when cooked carefully.
The reason basmati rice is less sticky is because it contains less Amylopectin. Amylopectin is a highly-branched starch molecule that makes the grains sticky and mushy. Therefore, basmati rice is naturally less gelatinous.
The fluffy texture of basmati rice makes it perfect for flavorful recipes, as you’ll savor each grain properly!
Basmati rice is heavily infused with potent spices and ingredients. Yet, if you’ve noticed, the grains still retain their distinctive flavor.
The same compound, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, responsible for basmati’s unique aroma, is also the reason behind the floral and sweet flavor.
You can experience an explosion of flavors when you cook basmati rice with various spices.
Basmati rice is my preferred rice variety, as it goes with every other cuisine!
Basmati rice is used extensively in both Indian and Mediterranean cuisines. The most popular dishes in the Indian subcontinent are biryani and pulav. You also use basmati to prepare Mediterranean Yellow Rice, a popular side dish for many main courses.
If you don’t have medium-grain rice for Asian cuisine, you can always go for basmati rice. It may not provide the desired stickiness, but it’s still a delicious substitute.
Easy to Cook
Basmati rice is one of the most straightforward rice varieties to cook.
You don’t need to soak it for long to remove the excess starch. Moreover, you only have to rinse it once, unlike standard rice grains that require excessive rinsing.
Also, there are fewer chances of your basmati rice turning out soggy or mushy compared to medium-grain rice. So, it’s the best rice for beginners who are skeptical about the results!
Another thing to note is that basmati rice is also full of flavors right from the start. There’s no need to add additional ingredients if you’re craving basic rice.
Remains Fresh After Storage
You may have noticed that rice grains often clump together after you take them out of the refrigerator.
In my experience, the same issue doesn’t occur with basmati rice. This type of rice remains fluffy, separated, and fresh even after you’ve refrigerated it for more than a day!
What Are the Health Benefits of Basmati Rice?
Basmati rice has many culinary benefits, but it also has many health benefits.
Scientists have found that basmati rice has lower levels of arsenic compared to other rice. Arsenic is a heavy metal found in all rice that may increase the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiac diseases.
Basmati rice also has a low to medium glycemic index between 50 and 58.
People with Type 2 Diabetes may consume basmati rice in small quantities, as it has fewer chances of increasing their blood sugar levels than other types of rice.
Basmati rice has a beautiful aroma, a nutty taste, and an impeccable texture. It’s also pretty easy to cook, store, and use. These characteristics make it one of the best rice types ever to exist!
I hope this blog post helped you understand what makes basmati rice unique and why people commonly use it in various dishes.
Is basmati rice the healthiest kind of rice?
Basmati rice is one of the healthiest rice grains due to its low to medium glycemic index and low arsenic content. It’s also rich in nutrients like B vitamins, especially Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine.
Can you eat basmati rice every day?
Basmati rice is safe to consume every day. Yet, refined basmati rice doesn’t contain as many nutrients as unrefined rice.