Basmati Rice
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Basmati, is an aromatic rice. “Basmati”, long grain rice, is a Hindi word that is translated as “fragrant” which describes the delicious smell. The smell, is the product of a chemical compound called, "2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline" and smells something like popcorn when cooked.

Basmati rice is very long, needle-like shaped rice. Also, Basmati rice elongates even more, when cooked.

Season

Basmati Rice, like most rice, is sown in the late Spring and harvested in the Summer.

Cultivation

Authentic Basmati Rice plants are tall and slender and prone to lodging, in high winds. Basmati rice types include Basmati-370, Basmati-385, and Basmati-Ranabirpura. Basmati Rice has been bred with a number of rice types to grow promising hybrids. The most well known in the U.S. is “Texmati Rice,” but another promising hybrid is “Pusa Basmati 1” (also called “Todal”).

Production

Basmati rice comes from the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in northern India and Pakistan. Basmati rice plants have a relatively low yield, but produce high-quality grains and command high prices in both Indian and international markets.

Some Basmati rice is grown in America, especially "Brown Basmati Rice."

If grown in the United States, White Basmati Rice has 6 standard grades: Extra Fancy Rice (U.S. No. 1), Fancy Rice (U.S. No. 2), Extra Choice Rice (U.S. No. 3), Choice Rice (U.S. No. 4), Medium Rice (U.S. No. 5), and Sample Grade Rice. Brown Basmati Rice, only has 4 standard grades: (U.S. No. 1), Fancy Rice (U.S. No. 2), Choice Rice (U.S. No. 4), and Sample Grade Rice.

Purchasing

Because it comes in two common forms, Basmati Rice is seen at retail as both Brown Basmati and White Basmati. Basmati rice, is seldom found as Converted Rice or Minute Rice.

Basmati Rice tends to be more expensive than Jasmine Rice, which is a close substitute.

Most Basmati Rice is pre-packaged after processing making it hard to visually inspect the product. If the package you are considering has a “window” or other way to peek in on the product, look for Basmati Rice with the fewest number of broken kernels.

The most preferred form of Basmati Rice is Dehra Dun from India. You should be able to find Dehra Dun Basmati Rice at well-stocked South Asian markets.

Be aware that the Food Standards Agency in Britain found in 2005 that about half of all Basmati Rice sold at retail was “cut” with other types of long grain of rice. It is difficult for the average consumer to identify the more expensive, long, needle-like Basmati Rice grains and some unscrupulous types took advantage and mixed in crossbred Basmati Rice or plain old Long Grain Rice. With increased scrutiny, results improved, somewhat.

In a similar test in 2010 in the U.K., results improved by 47% to a still dismal 27% failure rate of the Basmati Rice samples provided by the wholesalers. That means that 27% of the Basmati Product submitted for testing was adulterated with cheaper rice. One sample had no Basmati Rice in it at all. Look for long, needle-like grains with a floral fragrance and nutty taste when cooked. If you feel you are being cheated, let your retailer and the manufacturer know.

Storage

Because it is a dried Grain, an unopened container of Basmati Rice will keep almost indefinitely in a pantry at Room temperature, in the refrigerator, or frozen. Once the package is opened, the only real risks to the shelf life are pests, including bugs and rats. Keeping the container sealed and airtight can protect against most of these pests.

Let cooked Rice cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. Cooked Basmati Rice will last about 4-7 days in the refrigerator but it’s best to use it within 2 days. 

Culinary Uses

Basmati Rice has a “nutty” flavor and fragrance. It is favored in many Indian Cuisine, North Indian Cuisine (Curry or Biryani), Persian Cuisine (Tahdig) or Middle Eastern Cuisine dishes.

Basmati Rice is a Long Grain Rice (Basmati Rice kernels elongate when cooked) and a Starchy Rice. Many chefs wash this Rice before cooking it due to the high starch content and some go further and soak it for half an hour to two hours before cooking, which makes the rice kernels less likely to break during cooking.

Basmati should cook up fluffy and light, stay firm, and be easily separated. Basmati Rice does not tend to be sticky.

Smart Kitchen has an Exercise on Cooking Starchy Rice which demonstrates exactly how to properly cook Basmati Rice, where the ratio of water to Rice is roughly two parts water to one part Basmati Rice.

Basmati Rice comes in both Brown Basmati Rice (Husk removed but Rice Bran intact) and White Basmati Rice (Husk and Rice Bran removed). The culinary differences are the same as for all White Rice versus all Brown Rice. White Rice is smoother, lighter, and less nutritious, cooks more quickly, and is less subject to spoilage.

If the Basmati Rice is still is crunchy at the end of the Simmering time, the Rice is undercooked and you may need to add 1-2 T of liquid and Simmer a bit longer. If it’s falling apart then it is overcooked and you should start over. Remember, you can fix undercooking, but you can’t fix overcooking. Start checking the Rice early.

The same Simmering effect can also be achieved by Baking Basmati Rice and liquid together in the oven. Basmati Rice can also be Pan Fried, once it has been Simmered.

Substitutes

Jasmine Ricewhich is less expensive, is a good substitute for Basmati Rice. A near substitute for Basmati Rice is any other Long Grain Rice.

Nutritional Value

See the White Basmati Rice Resource Page and the Brown Basmati Rice Resource Page for specific Nutritional Information on each type of Rice.

Nutrition

White Basmati Rice and Brown Basmati Rice have different nutritional characteristics. The Brown Rice has all of the benefits of the White Basmati Rice plus additional benefits from retaining the Rice Bran.

White Basmati Rice is Fat Free and Sodium Free and contains only 206 calories per serving (1 C). White Basmati Rice is also a source of Protein (5g), Niacin, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Zinc. Brown Basmati Rice, at 216 calories per serving (1 C), has the additional benefit of containing Dietary Fiber, Thiamine, and Iron.

Basmati Rice contains Protein and is a staple food but it is not a Complete Protein (containing all of the Essential Amino Acids) and should be combined with other foods (Nuts, Seeds, Beans, Fish, Meat, etc.) to ensure proper nutrition. 

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes