We Indians love rice, it is our staple food and we take immense pleasure in relishing delicious, earthy and aromatic rice-based dishes. Not just in India, rice is the essential food across the world from South America to South-East Asian countries, and it is the mainstay of our agricultural livelihood, supporting the economy to prosper.
Well, there has many been theories about ‘rice and health’ in the recent years and it is now widely believed that it can cause weight gain, spike high blood sugar levels, owing to its glycemic index. However, according to many studies Asian communities consume rice on a daily basis and do not have any health issues associated with a high carbohydrate diet. Let us thank our genetics and feel unapologetic for that each morsel of rice, we relish.
Rice has donned various avatars in the last three decades and there are at least a hundred varieties available in our country. While Keralites eat hand-pounded rice with their daily dishes, Sonamasoori, Ponni, are other popular varieties in the rest of the South Indian states.
However, when it comes to cooking special rice-based fares like Biryani, Pulao etc, Basmati tops the list and is our best bet, as it not only complements the dish with aromatic flavour but also makes each bite delectable, nutritious and immensely satisfying.
Basmati rice is a distinct species of rice traditionally originated from the Indian subcontinent. It is a long, slender-grained aromatic rice variety available in two types white and brown. As per the Indian Government agency APEDA, a rice variety can be labelled as Basmati if it has minimum average precooked milled rice length of 6.1 mm and precooked milled rice breadth of up to 2mm as the main parameters.
India is the world leader in the production of basmati rice, which accounts for 70% and the leading exporter of basmati rice covering 65% of the overseas market. Basmati rice is cultivated in India in the regions which have GI tag (geographical indication) of basmati rice are in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
Basmati is derived from the Sanskrit and Hindi name basamati which literally means fragrant. It is believed to have been cultivated in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times and in the earliest literature basmati rice was known as Heer Ranjha. This aromatic rice was first introduced to the Middle East and Central Asia by Arab and Muslim Indian traders. It also now widely used in Central Asian, Persian, Arab and other Middle Eastern cuisines as well.
Basmati rice has a pandan-like (Pandanus amaryllifolius leaf) flavour owing to the presence of aromatic compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline. It contains about 0.09 ppm of this flavourful chemical compound naturally, which is about 12 times more than non-basmati rice varieties making basmati rice a unique spicy fragrance and flavourful one. While cooking the level of 2-acetyl -1-pyrroline decreases, hence it is recommended to soak the rice for 30 minutes before cooking which lessen cooking time by 20% and also reserves the aroma. Also Read: My Dinner Was Dal and Rice For A Month. And This Is How Transformed Me
Types Of Basmati Rice:
There are about 29 varieties of basmati rice that have been identified, each one has its own distinct properties, flavour, texture, appearance and nutritional content. Some of the most prominent types of basmati rice include:
Pusa Basmati 1121
This is also known as muchal basmati which is one of the most used types. It has a long-tipped point, slender and rice grains are soft to the palate. Muchal basmati rice is used extensively for making biryani and pilaf.
Pusa Basmati – 1
Pusa basmati 1 has extra-long grains with a pleasant aroma when cooked each kernel expands four times its normal size. It is also easily digestible.
This type is a very popular, old variety which is largely consumed in Jammu & Kashmir and Dehradun regions. The grains are long with an extraordinary flavour and taste which why it is relished by the locals.
Basmati 386 is a premium variety relatively available in the local market. The grains are known to stretch two times its length when cooked, which makes it look very appealing and appetising.
Taraori basmati also called as karnal local is a widely famous rice variety in the Taraori region. It is believed to be the oldest basmati rice variety which was cultivated since 1933. It is typically used to make Pilaf, the long, slender–grain rice is aromatic and mostly used for weddings and other events.
Basmati 217 is the newest of all the types available in India. It is greatly valued for its unique taste and rich aroma. The grains are extra-long and superfine and taste best to make flavourful biryani and other dishes.
Basmati Rice Nutritional Facts:
Fragrant basmati rice is available in two types brown and white, brown basmati rice retains outer bran layer imbued with more fibre and nutrients than white one, which has been processed and bran is removed. Basmati rice is valued as a healthier option of rice owing to its impressive nutrient profile. Aromatic basmati rice contains vitamins, minerals, fibre, carbs, protein and minimal fat making it perfect cereal to fit into a healthier diet regimen. Besides these, basmati rice also contains a myriad of essential nutrients such as copper, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins B1, B6, E, K and pantothenic acids which confers with a host of healing health benefits. Also Read: Eat Rice To Prevent Obesity, Says Study. Choose From These 4 Varieties To Lose Weight
Nutrition Value One Cup (163 Grams) Of Cooked White Basmati Rice
Protein: 4.4 grams
Fat: 0.5 grams
Carbs: 45.6 grams
Fibre: 0.7 grams
Sodium: 399 mg
Folate: 24% of the Daily Value (DV)
Thiamine: 22% of the DV
Selenium: 22% of the DV
Niacin: 15% of the DV
Copper: 12% of the DV
Iron: 11% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
Zinc: 7% of the DV
Phosphorus: 6% of the DV
Magnesium: 5% of the DV
*Source As Per The USDA
Why Ayurveda Values Basmati Rice?
According to Ayurvedic terms, basmati rice is taught to be balancing three doshas –Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Every kind of food we eat has its own doshic balance, some inherent more heat, while others add pitta to the system and some foods are cold and wet and uplift the kapha element. It is very rare to find a food that balances all three doshas, which is why basmati rice is so highly prized. However, if eaten in large quantities it may increase kapha dosha. Basmati rice is also considered sattvic or pure which has the potential in balancing the mind as well as the body. As per Ayurveda basmati rice is good for building rasas or body tissue and also an abundant source of prana. Though it is highly nourishing yet easy to digest and works as comfort food during an illness.
Difference Between Brown And White Basmati Rice:
Basmati rice comes in two varieties brown and white. Brown basmati rice has the outer bran layer making it more nutritious, with chewy texture once cooked and a nutty aroma. While white rice is processed removing bran and germ layers, this makes it softer, sticky texture than brown basmati rice once cooked. Also Read: Brown Rice Vs White Rice: Which Is Better?
Brown basmati rice is packed with both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, soluble fibre delays gastric emptying time and slows the digestion process. Insoluble fibre assists to add bulk to stool and smoothly moves food along the intestines promoting digestion and lessen constipation and treats other gastrointestinal woes. Both the rice varieties contain all the eight essential amino acids and a notable amount of selenium and magnesium which supports carbohydrates and protein metabolism and proper functioning of the nervous system. Vast reserves of selenium help in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and lower the risk of cancer. Both varieties are gluten-free, high on carbohydrates and energy-dense helps the body to function at its optimal level.
Glycaemic Index Of Basmati Rice:
The glycaemic index (GI) is the measure of how quickly blood sugar level rises after consuming a particular food. It is observed that consuming a diet that has high GI foods can increase the risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Rice is considered to be high on the glycaemic index, however, as per the Journal, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition states that glycaemic index of basmati rice ranges between 50 and 58, which makes it a medium glycaemic index food. This makes basmati rice a very healthy alternative of carbohydrates. Moreover, brown basmati rice has even lower GI index. Also Read 5 Fruits Low On Glycemic Index That Are Good For Diabetics-Infographic
Health Benefits Of Basmati Rice:
Basmati rice although high in calories and carbohydrate contains a plethora of essential nutrients and dietary fibre that slow down the digestion process. This streamlines the blood sugar spikes making basmati rice a diabetic-friendly cereal. As per the Diabetic Association of Canada, basmati rice has a lower glycaemic index than other rice varieties which is important for people with diabetes. Besides these, a noteworthy amount of fibre, amylase and protein in basmati rice makes it low on the glycaemic index and keep blood sugar levels under control.
Basmati rice is low on saturated fats and sodium which makes it a healthier option for those with cardiac ailments. Moreover, loaded with dietary fibre and vitamin B support to improve good cholesterol (HDL) levels and reduces bad cholesterol. This prevents fatty deposits in heart vessels, helping cardiac muscle function and optimising heart health.
Basmati rice is blessed with the goodness of dietary fibres, with 20% more fibre than many other kinds of cereal which have the ability to prevent the growth of cancerous cells. Consuming a diet plentiful in fibre content regulates bowel functions, add faecal bulk and promotes smooth passage of food and other materials within the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the consumption of whole-grain brown basmati rice is effective in preventing breast cancer as the fibres ease the system in maintaining hormone balance.
It is a popular belief that a diet high on rice is the biggest enemy for weight loss. But evidence reveals that basmati rice can incredibly help people to shed excess weight. The richness of natural dietary fibre slows down digestion, keep you satiated for longer time and control unwanted food cravings. Aside from this, it also contains a high amount of amylose, a type of carbs that makes it hard for the body to digest thereby accelerating weight loss. Also Read: Wheat: 5 Nutritional Reasons Why You Should Add This Whole-grain Cereal To Your Daily Diet
Regulates Blood Pressure
Profuse amounts of magnesium and potassium in basmati rice helps in reducing blood pressure remarkably. Potassium plays a vital role in relaxing blood vessels and improve circulation and blood flow to all the vital organs. Regular addition of basmati rice can greatly help people with high blood pressure.
Basmati being rich in soluble fibre provides the system with ample amounts of roughage that helps in the smooth functioning of the digestive system. A diet high on fibre prevents constipation by adding bulk to the stool to aids the waste move through the intestines. Thus including basmati rice to daily routine would greatly help people suffering from constipation and other gastrointestinal woes.
Is Basmati Rice Better For You Than White Rice?
Low Arsenic Content
Fragrant basmati rice, when compared to white and other types of rice, is low in arsenic, a kind of heavy metal that can potentially elevate risk of diabetes, heart problems and cancers says research. Generally arsenic accumulates more in rice than in other grains, which can be a concern for ones who eat rice on a regular basis. Basmati rice cultivated in India and Pakistan contains the lowest levels of arsenic compared with other rice varieties. In addition, brown rice varieties tend to be higher in arsenic content than white rice, as arsenic accumulates in the outer bran layer.
Generally, basmati rice is fortified with essential nutrients that are added while processing to boost the nutritional profile. Enriched with vital nutrients such as iron, folic acid, thiamine, and niacin basmati rice helps you to meet the increasing demand of important vitamins and minerals.
Brown basmati rice is valued as whole grain as it contains the outer bran layer comes with abounds of nutrients. Consuming whole grain cereals lowers the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Basmati Rice Versus Plain Rice:
Basmati rice just like plain rice comes in both white and brown varieties. Some of the difference between basmati rice and plain rice include:
Basmati rice is light and fluffy than plain long-grain rice
It has a nutty flavour and rich aroma
It is less starchy than plain white rice
How To Cook Basmati Rice?
Cooking basmati rice is an easy and simple preparation. Washing basmati rice prior to cooking is important to make sure that starch is removed. It is essential to wash the rice a couple of times in a fine-mesh sieve with cold water, then drain and repeat the procedure for 2 times. Soaking the rice for 15-20 minutes makes it softer, but it is not a necessary step. To cook one cup of basmati rice add a cup and a half of water. Cook the rice using a rice cooker or a heavy-bottom pot over the stove.
Basmati Rice Recipes:
Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf
Pilaf is a delicious one-pot rice dish that will leave you to crave more. Made using a variety of vegetables, legumes and flavoured with a blend of spices. Garnished with liberal amounts of fried dry fruits.
½ cup washed, soaked brown basmati rice
¼ cup cooked kala chana
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 Medium Onion
1 Medium Carrot
1 Tbsp Celery, chopped
1 stick cinnamon
6-7 black peppercorns
2 green chilli
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 medium-sized cubed tomato
1/4 cup chopped, fried dry fruits
600 ml vegetable stock water
In a pan, heat butter and olive oil, and add whole spices and sauté for a few seconds.
Now add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and stir well for 5 minutes and add the cooked kala channa to the vegetables.
Now add the basmati rice, tomatoes, salt and masalas blend well.
Cook the rice by adding stock water until rice is fluffy and done.
Garnish with dry fruits, and spring onions and serve hot with raita.
Brown basmati rice packed with a treasure trove of nutrients and fibre keeps you satiated and manages diabetes. Carrots are bestowed with Vitamin A and antioxidants, for healthy vision and augment skin glow and radiance. Onions naturally abundant in quercetin, a potent antioxidant scavenges free radicals and lowers the risk of chronic diseases. While cinnamon and cardamom aid digestion and pepper help in relieving respiratory ailments. The goodness of dry fruits in the pilaf confers with essential omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iron and calcium.
Basmati Rice Kheer
½ cup soaked, basmati rice
1-litre full cream milk
6-8 saffron threads
10 no’s chopped, cashew nuts
2 tsps raisins
1 tbsp chopped, almonds
¼ cup of sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
10 nos chopped, pistachios
1 tbsp ghee
In a pan add ghee and fry cashew nuts, raisins and keep it aside.
Boil milk in a deep non-stick pan, drain and crush rice coarsely, add to the boiling milk and cook till the rice is done.
Add saffron strands, sugar and cook till the rice is completely done, keep stirring so that the rice does not stick to the bottom. Finally, add cardamom powder and mix well.
Garnish with fried nuts and chopped almonds and pistachio.
Basmati rice is a great source of carbohydrate which fuels the body with the needed energy. Milk plentiful in protein, calcium and vitamin D promotes growth and strengthens bones. While the goodness of nuts and dry fruits abounds in protein, healthy fats and minerals promote normal growth and development of the body.
Side Effects Of Basmati Rice:
Basmati rice is a highly prized rice variety for its rich aroma and flavour. There is no specific side effect of consuming it, however, if you are having a polished variety of rice there is some amount of nutrient depletion caused due to refining process. Some of the nutrients lost during the process are B complex vitamins, iron, vitamin E and protein to mention a few.
Basmati rice is fragrant long-grainy rice with a nutty flavour and rich aroma. It has lower arsenic content than other varieties of rice. Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals basmati rice comes with an impressive nutritional profile. Basmati rice available in both white and brown varieties can be used to make a spectrum of delicious savoury and sweet cuisines. Being low on the glycaemic index and loaded with dietary fibre, basmati rice helps in managing diabetes, aids digestion and promotes weight loss. White basmati rice can be relished in moderation, while the brown basmati rice may be the best option for overall health.