long grained rice (basmati)

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Also Known as
Long grained rice

These are oriental rices with long, slender grains; the best known is Basmati, which is extraordinarily perfumed. Basmati is an aromatic, fragrant, long grain, slender rice, and has a nutty flavor. 'Basmati', when literally translated from Hindi, means 'queen of fragrance'. It is the world's best rice one can use for cooking and has been exported all around the world for centuries. To obtain the correct aroma and flavor of Basmati rice, proper ageing is required to reduce its moisture content.

Authentic Basmati rice is sourced from northern India at the foothills of the Himalayas. Whilst Basmati rice can be sourced from India and Pakistan, Indian Basmati is traditionally considered premium. The colour of a basmati is translucent, creamy white. Brown Basmati Rice is also available but the most commonly used is white Basmati.

The grain is long (6.61 - 7.5 mm) or very long (more than 7.50 mm and 2 mm breadth).
Shape or length-to-width ratio is another criterion to identify basmati rice. This needs to be over 3.0 in order to qualify as basmati. Dry, firm, separate grains.

Upon cooking, the texture is firm and tender without splitting, and it is non-sticky. The rice elongates almost twice upon cooking but does not fatten much. The most important characteristic of them all is the aroma.

There are many varieties of Basmati rice in India. But, it is difficult to identify the original ones. Presently, a lot of the rice packed and sold in some parts of the country is called basmati, although it is well known that not all of these varieties are basmati.

How to Select
Basmati rice is available prepackaged as well as in bulk containers. If purchasing rice in a packaged container, check to see if there is a "use-by" date on the package since brown rice, owing to its natural oils, has the potential to become rancid if kept too long.
Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the rice are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing rice in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture. Also look for intact kernels that aren't broken, scratched, or damaged.

Culinary Uses
" Flavour and texture complements curries because it is drier rice and the grains stay separate. Also suits biryani and pilaf (where saffron is added to provide extra colour and flavour). Great for Indian & Middle Eastern dishes.
" Pulao, Biryani, and plain boiled white rice are used for the main course.
" Kheer, Sweet Saffron Rice and Phirni are prepared as desserts.
" Heat up cooked rice with milk or soymilk. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and honey for a delicious rice pudding.
" Use basmati rice leftovers for cold rice salads that are great for on-the-go lunches.
" Be creative and add tofu plus your favorite vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices.
" For a simple yet delicious lunch or dinner entrée, serve beans and rice accompanied by the vegetables of your choice.
" Basmati rice as a side dish need not be served plain - spruce it up with the toppings of your choice. Some of our favorites include nuts, sesame seeds, healthy sautéed mushrooms, and scallions.
" Place basmati rice and chopped vegetables in pita bread, top with your favorite dressing, and enjoy a quick and easy lunch meal.
" The rice is fluffy and dry and the grains do not stick together after it is cooked.
" Steaming, boiling, and baking are excellent preparation methods for basmati rice, which can be used in pilafs, salads, and a variety of cooked dishes.
" Basmati rice combines well with sauces and curries.

How to Store
Once you have opened a package of rice, transfer it into a clean jar and keep it in a cool dark place. This prevents moisture and insect infestation. Since rice still features an oil-rich germ, it is more susceptible to becoming rancid. Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place rather than the refrigerator.

Health Benefits
" Rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates, which is an important source of the fuel our bodies need.
" Good energy source: Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, most of which is used as energy for exercise and as essential fuel for the brain.
" Rice is healthful for what it does not contain. Rice has no fat, no cholesterol and is sodium free. Rice is an excellent food to include in a balanced diet.
" A good source of vitamins and minerals such as thiamine, niacin, iron, riboflavin, vitamin D, calcium.
" Rice is gluten free. All rice is gluten free, making rice the essential choice for people with gluten free dietary requirements.
" Rice contains no additives or preservatives, making it an excellent inclusion in a healthy and balanced diet.
" Contains resistant starch: Rice also contains resistant starch, which is the starch that reaches the bowel undigested. This encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria, keeping the bowel healthy.
" Rice is a low-sodium food for those with hypertension.
" It is a fair source of protein containing all eight amino acids.
" Rice is completely non-allergenic. It is the grain for people with digestive problems.
" Rice is wonderful in treating diarrhoea n children.
" Being low in fiber is extremely soothing to the digestive system.

Soaked and cooked long grained rice
The rice needs to be soaked for 20-30 minutes. After soaking when the rice needs to be cooked, the soaking water is discarded and twice the amount of water by volume is added to the rice and it can be cooked in a pressure cooker or in a pan. Always boil the rice just a little less than done, to keep the grain whole and separate. Rice can also be cooked by adding in 3-4 times the water in a pan and once the rice is cooked, drain all the excess starch water and cool in a large plate, where the same is called for in the recipe. Take a grain between thumb and index finger and press. If it breaks, on pressing but does not leave a hard speck, then it is done.
Soaked long grained rice
Soaking the rice beforehand helps in giving a fine texture to the cooked rice and also saves on cooking time. Prior to cooking rice it has to be soaked. Rice should be immersed in room temperature water and rinsed in water 3 to 4 times till the water becomes clear. Then the rice should be soaked in at least twice the amount of water for 20-30 minutes. Drain the water and use as required.

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