© Denzil Green
Basmati is a long grain rice with a fine texture whose grains separate easily when cooked. It is great with Indian food. It has a perfumy fragrance to it, but not excessively so. You can get brown or white Basmati. The brown is a bit more nutritious and has a very nice flavour, but takes longer to cook — about double the time of white Basmati.
Basmati has a fabulous aroma and flavour that might take you by surprise if you’ve only ever had instant rice, but if you’ve ever had take-out Indian food or Indian food in a restaurant, that’s the rice you’ve probably had with it. It fluffs up nicely when you cook it.
Basmati is aged after harvest to decrease moisture content and concentrate its flavour and fragrance.
Most of the world’s supply of Basmati is produced in the Punjab area of India, and in Pakistan. 10% of India’s Basmati exports go to the US (1998 figures.)
At times, Basmati has been the most expensive rice on the market, but this is no longer true with the advent of Spanish speciality paella rices such as Bomba Rice.
Varieties of Basmati Rice
- Basmati Raw (White) Rice
- Basmati Silky Raw Rice
- Basmati White Parboiled Rice
- Basmati Golden Parboiled Rice
- Basmati (Brown) Rice
As for rice in general.
To get Basmati to really fluff up, as you get it in restaurants, rinse it 2 or 3 times in cold water before cooking to get the outside starch off it.
Brown Basmati Rice
© Denzil Green
There has been a food myth circulating that, in the autumn of 1997, a company in Alvin, Texas, called “RiceTec Inc.”, was able to get a patent (a Patent number, 5663484, is even quoted) from the US Patent Office for the name “Basmati”. The truth is, though, that while RiceTec did get a patent, it didn’t cover the word “Basmati”: the patent only covered only the new strain of Basmati that RiceTec Inc developed.
Nor would a patent even apply to a name or any name: in the US, patents don’t cover names, only Trademarks do. And even should a US government department have decided to award a Trademark on a name such as “Basmati”, it wouldn’t have applied to other jurisdictions such as the EU. The controversy was more a reflection of fear on the part of India and Pakistan that having any American company enter the Basmati market could cut into their hold on the global market.