Basmati Rice: What It Is, History and Benefits
Basmati rice is a type of aromatic rice that has long and slender grains and is mostly grown in Pakistan and India. The rice variety has a precooked milled rice length of at least 6.61 mm and a breadth of around 2 mm.
The rice is highly popular because of its aroma, flavor, and its ease of cooking. That has given it the name popcorn rice.
History of Basmati Rice
It is believed that basmati has been grown in India for many centuries. In history books, the first mention of this variety of rice was in 1766 by Heer Ranjha. The word basmati is originally a Sanskrit word that directly translates to fragrant or perfumed one.
Production of Basmati Rice
The rice is mainly grown in northern India, specifically the Punjab region. It is grown in wet areas that have fertile soil, either field that has artificial irrigation or flooded fields. The monsoon season is the best for the cultivation of this rice variety.
During cultivation, chemicals are sprayed onto the crop, which contributes negatively to the environment because the chemicals flow into usable water.
After the crop has fully grown, it is harvested by threshing the rice off the plant’s stalk. That is done mostly by hand or machines. The harvested rice is then left on the fields to dry.
After drying the rice, it is then transported to the factories, where laborers and machines hull it to remove the leafy layer or glume of the rice grains. For brown basmati rice, that is usually the last process, but white rice undergoes milling, where the outer brown layer is removed.
The finished rice is then packed into plastic bags for exportation.
How To Cook The Perfect Basmati Rice Recipe
Cooking basmati rice requires a perfect recipe. This is the best recipe for this variety of cooked rice.
- Two cups or 500 ml of basmati rice
- Three cups or 750 ml boiling water
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Pot and lid
- Rice cooker
Process to Cook Basmati Rice
- Use the strainer to wash and rinse the rice in cold running water until the water is clear. That helps remove the starch to keep your rice from being sticky.
- To soften the rice, soak it in a bowl of water for around 30-60 minutes. This step is optional.
- Drain the rice and transfer it into the pot and add a pinch of salt to ensure that the salt fully absorbs into the rice.
- Pour your 3 cups of boiled water over the rice.
- Place the pot on medium-high heat, and when the water begins to boil and steam again, use an aluminum foil to cover the pot and crimp the edges onto the pot’s rim to keep the steam from escaping. Cover the foil with the lid.
- Reduce the heat to just over the lowest setting and leave the rice to cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cooking rice from the heat after 15 minutes, and without removing the lid, leave it to steam for five more minutes.
- Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
You can serve it the fluffy rice with;
- Spiced lamb meatballs
- Chicken tikka masala
- Rajmah chawal
- Tilapia in ginger and yogurt curry
- Kerala coconut chicken curry
Types Of Basmati Rice
There are many varieties of basmati present in the market, but to be verified as high quality, it has to meet some factors like the length and breadth of the precooked seeds. Some of the verified and approved types are;
Pusa Basmati 1:
This type has extra-long grain rice and a pleasant aroma. The kernel volume expands to four times the normal pre-cooked size when cooked. Pusa basmati 1 is popular for its easy digestibility.
Pisa Basmati 1121:
Also called Muchal basmati, Pusa Basmatic rice grains have long-tipped points. The grains are slender and soft to the palate, which makes them perfect for cooking pilaf and biryani. This is also one of the commonly used types of basmati.
This is a relatively old basmati variety widely consumed in Dehradun and Jammu & Kashmir. Its rice grains are exceptionally long, and they also have an exceptional taste and aroma, which makes them favored by locals.
This is one of the newest varieties in India, and it is valued for its rich aroma and exquisite taste. Its rice grains are superfine and extra-long.
This is a premium basmati variety. When cooked, its rice grains are said to stretch to almost double their original size.
Also called Karnal local, this basmati variety is widely consumed in the Taraori region. It is considered the oldest basmati variety since its cultivation started in 1933. It is popularly used to cook Pilaf, and because of its aroma and long grains, it is preferred for large events and weddings.
Mahi Sugandh Basmati:
This is another of the newest basmati varieties in the market. Commonly grown in Rajasthan, its grains are not as long as the other basmati varieties, leading to the name semi-dwarf basmati.
However, it has a very pleasant aroma and taste.
This is one of the most affordable basmati varieties. It is mainly cultivated in Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh, and its grains are long. However, being a hybrid of traditional basmati, its aroma is not as strong as that of other basmati varieties.
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How To Choose The Best Basmati Rice
Since basmati rice is known as one of the best rice varieties in the world, the demand has highly increased, which has led to many people coming with fake basmati varieties and claiming them to be original. Many of those fake brands manage to have rice with the same physical appearance as real basmati.
But how can you tell the difference to avoid going home with low-quality rice in the name of basmati?
Taste – Real basmati is fluffy, soft, succulent, and pliant. It also has a very exceptional and distinctive nutty taste.
Aroma – This is one of the main ways to differentiate ordinary rice and basmati. Basmati has a pleasant, floral, fragrant, and appetizing aroma and much different from jasmine rice.
Texture – Basmati grains should be delicate to the touch, and each grain should be separate from each other once cooked.
Packaging – The best basmati does not come in plastic bags. Go for rice packed in cloth packaging labeled ‘extra-long grain.
Shape – The longer the rice grain is, the better the rice. Also, check if the grains have a slightly tapered end and make sure that the grains are not flat along the sides.
Color – Best quality basmati rice should not be pearly white. Go for the rice with a slightly golden hue, but it should not be gray. That indicates that it has fully aged and is completely dry.
Where To Buy Basmati Rice And How To Store
You can find basmati in grocery stores or supermarkets in the dry grains sections. You can also find it in dry grain stores. You can also buy basmati rice online.
After buying, you can leave the rice in its original packaging and store it in a cool, dry, and dark place. Also, ensure that you use it a few months after buying it to ensure it is still of the best quality.
For long-term storage, you can transfer it into airtight plastic or glass containers to keep it from absorbing any moisture. You can also increase its shelf life by stashing it into the freezer.
Benefits Of Basmati Rice
Good aroma and taste
One of the biggest benefits of basmati is the taste and aroma. It automatically boosts your appetite and makes eating enjoyable.
Basmati Rice Rich in fiber
Basmati, especially brown basmati, contains large amounts of soluble fiber, which adds bulks and assists in waste movement in the digestive tract. That helps in digestion and reduces constipation.
It also leaves you feeling fuller for longer, which is beneficial if you want to lose weight.
Basmati Rice Helps Reduce Diabetes
Basmati has a low to medium (50-58) glycemic index, which makes it a healthy diet for diabetes patients, unlike other types of rice. The high fiber content also helps reduce the risk of getting diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
Basmati Rice Improves Brain Health
Basmati has high levels of vitamin B, including B1 (thiamine). The rice has around 22% of the daily recommended thiamin intake in every serving. B1 is essential for good brain health, and a shortage of it can result in Wernicke encephalopathy.
Reduced Cancer Risk
Brown basmati has around 20% more fiber than other types of brown rice, which is essential in reducing the chances of getting cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Having 3 ounces of basmati brown rice daily reduces cancer risk by around 17%.
Basmati not only has high fiber and vitamin B, but it also has other numerous minerals and vitamins necessary for better body health.
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Basmati Rice Nutrition
1 cup of cooked basmati rice has;
- 210 calories.
- 4.4 grams proteins.
- 45.6 grams of carbs.
- 0.5 grams of fat.
- 399 milligrams of sodium.
- 0.7 grams of fiber.
- 24% of the daily value of folate.
- 22% of the daily value of selenium.
- 12% of the daily value of copper.
- 9% of the daily value of vitamin B6.
- 11% of the daily serving of iron.
- 7% of the daily serving of zinc.
- 5% of the daily serving of magnesium.
- 6% of the daily value of phosphorus.