Rice is one of the most widely consumed items in the world, and for good reason: It is a fantastic staple in any kitchen since it is adaptable, substantial, simple to cook, and tasty. Rice can do it all while offering comfort and satisfaction, whether it is used as a main dish ingredient, a side dish, a snack, or a dessert.
Since there are so many varieties of rice, it is a necessary ingredient in every kitchen and may be used in countless ways. Each kind of rice has a distinct flavor, texture, and set of special qualities that make it ideal for use. Additionally, as rice is gluten-free by nature, it is simple to create gluten-free meals to meet other diets on your menu. To help you select the ideal rice for your next dish, this article explores the characteristics that distinguish several types of rice.
There are more than a thousand varieties of rice
One of the most significant dietary sources for us is rice. Rice has moved around the world to fit among all cultures and cuisines and is a crucial component of Asian and Indian cuisine. The key ingredient in many of our favorite recipes, including paella, risotto, and jambalaya, rice is often used as a side dish to sop up mouthwatering curries and sauce or as the filler for a burrito.
The International Rice Gene Bank now has 136,000 different cultivars and wild rice species preserved. Researchers from all around the world congregate here to study, develop, collaborate, and learn about rice. They are categorized by genetics, color, thickness, grain length, stickiness, aroma, the technique of cultivating, etc.
Despite this huge quantity, Asian rice, Oryza sativa, is the most extensively consumed and popular kind of rice (with more than 40,000 varieties). Indica and japonica are the two main subspecies of rice found in Asia. Indica rice has long grains and is not sticky, whereas japonica rice has tiny grains and is sticky (also known as glutinous).
Basmati and jasmine rice are examples of indica rice, whereas varieties of japonica rice include, among others, arborio and calrose.
The Three Main Types of Rice
1. Long-Grain Rice
The length of long-grain rice is at least three to five times greater than its width. The two most well-liked and well-known types of long-grain rice are basmati and jasmine. When cooked correctly, long-grain rice should be fluffy, soft, and the least amount clumpy (always fully rinse your rice in multiple changes of clean water).
2. Medium-Grain Rice
Between long-grain and short-grain, or glutinous, rice, is medium-grain rice. Short-grain and medium-grain rice are occasionally merged into one category since the distinction between the two is not always evident. In any event, medium-grain rice is less starchy than short-grain rice and is shorter than long-grain rice, measuring two to three times longer than broad. When cooked, medium-grain rice is often fluffy and wet, but as it cools, it clumps and hardens. It produces a creamy texture perfect for rice pudding and risotto.
3. Short-Grain Rice
Round, plump, and starchy short-grain rice clusters together and swells. Because of its glue-like or sticky feel, short-grain rice is frequently used in sweet sweets, sticky rice, and sushi. It is best consumed with chopsticks or even your hands. Short-grain glutinous rice is frequently used to prepare dishes like Thai Mango Sticky Rice recipes, Arroz Caldo, and Congee.
Popular Types of Rice
It is challenging to keep track of all the various varieties of rice. Here is a list of the most popular rice kinds, when you should use them, and some delectable home cooking ideas.
1. Basmati Rice
Basmati, one of the most well-liked varieties of long-grain Asian indica rice, is still the principal rice used in Indian and Pakistani dishes like biryani and kheer. It was historically farmed in the foothills of the Himalayas. Basmati rice is long and slender, and when cooked, it may quadruple in length. It is characterized by a taste that is mild, nutty, and slightly flowery. Before cooking, soaking basmati rice for 30 minutes is sometimes advised to preserve flavor and save cooking time by 20%. Use basmati rice to prepare this mushroom pilaf dish or to have it with your favorite chicken curry.
- Varieties: white, brown
- Common uses: pilaf, side dish for curry
2. Jasmine Rice
Jasmine rice is a very well-liked long-grain rice variant, much like basmati rice. It is nutty and very fragrant and has its origins in Thailand, which explains why jasmine rice is frequently served in Thai cuisine. While basmati rice has somewhat longer grains than jasmine rice, the two can be used interchangeably. Coconut rice, olive chicken, and rice, or this chicken broccoli rice casserole may all be made using jasmine rice.
- Varieties: white, brown
- Popular uses: as a side for meats, fish, or stir-Frys
3. Kalijira Rice
This medium-grain rice originates from the Bengal area of India and is often referred to as baby basmati. It is best prepared using the spaghetti method, which involves boiling it in a big pot of water and then draining the extra liquid.
4. Rosematta Rice
Despite being an Indian-originating variety of medium-grain red rice, rosematta still has its bran layer. Its hearty, earthy taste is ideal for stews, curries, and other meals with meat.
5. White Rice
One of the most common and useful varieties of rice is long-grain white rice. The bran and germ are removed during milling, leaving behind less nutrient-dense but fluffier and gentler rice.
6. Wild Rice
Interestingly, wild rice is not linked to Asian rice; it is a sort of grass. It is cultivated in lakes and slow-moving streams across North America and certain areas of Canada in shallow water. Its interior grain is delicate, while its outer sheath has a particularly chewy feel. Wild rice has a low estimated glycemic index of only 16 and is rich in protein and fiber. Wild rice may be used in many different dishes, such as this creamy chicken and wild rice soup, this wild rice and turmeric broth soup, and wild rice salad.
- Varieties: Northern wild rice, wide rice, Texas wild rice, and Manchurian wild rice
- Common uses: Side dishes, salads, soups, etc.
7. Calrose Rice
Calrose is a medium-grain rice variety that was developed in California; it accounts for 80% of the state’s rice output. Calrose rice is a great choice for preparing sushi or adding to soups and stews since it keeps its taste after cooking, softens, and adheres to itself.
- Varieties: white, brown
- Common uses: plain, or as a side topped with vegetables or protein, fried rice, sushi
8. Japanese Short-Grain Rice
A short-grain species of Japonica rice (like Calrose rice) known as Japanese short-grain rice (Uruchimai), or simply Japanese rice, is distinguished by a remarkably distinctive stickiness and texture. Since the grains are shorter, plumper, and cook with more moisture, they become stickier than other types of rice. Sushi, rice balls, and other types of plain rice popular in Japanese cuisine can all be made with Japanese short-grain rice. Sushi rice and Japanese glutinous rice are not the same as Japanese short-grain rice. Although sticky rice (mochigome) is frequently used to produce sweets (more on this sweet rice below), the two cannot be used interchangeably.
- Japanese short-grain rice (Uruchimai) is frequently referred to as “sushi rice” in the US for clarification.
- Common uses: Sushi, rice balls, and any plain rice served with a Japanese meal
- For foods like sushi, medium-grain Calrose rice has replaced Japanese rice as a viable substitute.
9. Sushi rice
What is sushi rice, then? When used properly, the word “sushi rice” really refers to Japanese short-grain rice (Uruchimai) that has been steamed and seasoned with sumeshi, a vinegar-based seasoning (vinegared rice). In other terms, it is Japanese rice that has been spiced (Uruchimai). Due to their greater starch content, the transparent grains solidify and become sticky when cooked, making them perfect for sushi.
- Varieties: white, brown
10. Japanese Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
Another well-liked form of short-grain Japonica rice is Japanese glutinous rice, which is also known as sweet rice and is also referred to as mochigome or mochi rice. Japanese glutinous rice is short, spherical, and opaque in color. It has an extremely low amylose level, making it very chewy, sticky, and sweet when cooked. It is not commonly used to produce sushi or rice balls; instead, it is utilized to make mochi and/or other sweet desserts.
- Common called: sticky rice, sweet rice, waxy rice
- Note: Japanese glutinous rice is only one type of glutinous rice. However, given our love of sushi and Japanese sweets, it is one of the glutinous rice kinds that are most frequently encountered in the US.
11. Vialone Nano Rice
Vialone Nano is another well-liked risotto choice that the European Union has safeguarded so that it may only be farmed in the Italian region of Verona. Even though it soaks up a lot of liquid, it holds its form when cooked and has the traditional creamy risotto feel.
12. Arborio Rice
To make the traditional Italian rice dish risotto, such as this simple butternut squash risotto or this creamy parmesan risotto recipe with shrimp, arborio rice, a kind of medium- to short-grain rice, is used. Additionally, it may be utilized to prepare several varieties of rice pudding recipes. There are many sizes of arborio rice, which is short, stubby, and oval-shaped with a pearly white skin. The most popular kind of arborio rice in the US is superfine, which has the greatest grain size. Although less well-known for its flavor, arborio rice is adored for its creamy, cooked texture, which is brought on by the presence of a lot of amylopectins.
- Varieties: white, brown
13. Black Rice
Black rice is not wild rice, to start with. However, black rice is a kind of rice from the genus Oryza sativa L., some of which are sticky. Black rice, also known as forbidden rice, derives its distinctive color from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also present in foods like blueberries and blackberries. Black rice has a higher protein and iron content than other varieties of rice, and it nearly usually comes in the whole-grain form. Black rice cooks in about an hour and has a nutty and earthy flavor.
14. Medium-Grain Brown Rice
The bran and germ in the outer layer of this whole grain rice give it a strong, chewy, nutty taste and texture, making it a whole grain.
15. Valencia Rice
Valencia rice is a short-grain kind of rice that is mostly used to make paella and is cultivated in Valencia, Spain. It is sometimes referred to as Paella Rice and may be found in a variety of recipes, such as Arroz with Pollo, croquettes, desserts, and stuffing. Three well-known varieties of rice—Bahia, Bomba rice, and Senia—are frequently referred to as Valencia rice.
16. Red Rice
Red rice is a kind of rice that appears red because it contains anthocyanin. In contrast to other types of rice, which often have brown husks, red rice has a red husk, which is typically eaten whole or mostly whole. Of all the rice consumed with the germ still present, it offers the most nutritious value. Long-grain and medium-grain red rice are both available.
- Varieties: Red Cargo Rice (long-grain, non-glutinous), Bhutanese Red Rice (medium-grain, semi-milled, and slightly sticky when cooked)
17. Rice Blends
Various popular rice kinds may also be combined into multicolored rice mixes to create a pleasantly aromatic, nutty, and textured concoction. Long-grain brown rice, wild rice, red rice, and black rice are frequently used in popular mixtures.
18. Brown Rice
While the husk has been removed from brown rice, the germ and bran, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, have remained. It has a chewier texture and requires more time to cook than white rice. It may be used in place of white rice in many recipes and is available in both short- and long-grain versions.
19. Carnaroli Rice
Carnaroli rice is most frequently used in risotto, like arborio. It is cultivated in northern Italy and prized for its thick, creamy texture, strong grains, and high starch content.
20. Carolino Rice
Carolino rice is a Portuguese medium-grain rice type that cooks up with a solid but delicate texture. It also takes on colors and tastes, and Portuguese seafood and tomato-based recipes both benefit greatly from its use.
21. Sprouted Rice
Grab a package of sprouted rice for the most nutritional value possible. Companies jump-start the rice’s germination process to produce sprouted rice. By encouraging the rice to begin developing into a plant, the technique raises the rice’s nutritional worth.
22. Wehani Rice
Wehani, a long-grain heritage rice with a russet color and a slightly chewy texture that was developed by the visionary Lundberg Family Farms in northern California, fills the air with the enticing scent of buttered popcorn as it cooks. Its taste has a little brown basmati rice flavor to it. Look for the excellent black Japonica rice.
Wehani is abundant in the complex, slowly digesting carbohydrates required to power hard-working muscles, much like other whole-grain rice. While we like everything that protein can do for a toned figure, it is crucial to keep in mind that most of the energy required to keep up with those intense workouts comes from carbs. Whole-grain rice as a side dish may be thought of as fuel for your workouts.
23. Parboiled Rice
The rice that has been parboiled or converted comes last but certainly not least. Rice that has been partially precooked in its inedible husk before being processed for consumption is known as parboiled rice. It is said that parboiling rice enhances its texture, storage capabilities, and health advantages. After harvest but before milling, the rice is soaked, steamed, and dried in its husk as one of the three primary procedures of parboiling. In place of the typical white rice, we are used to, bright yellow rice is the product. Parboiled rice is dry and hard after cooking.
In conclusion, there are several varieties of rice, each with a unique flavor, texture, and nutritional profile. Each variety of rice may be cooked in several ways, such as steaming, boiling, or stir-frying, and is best suited for particular meals. Your ability to select the ideal rice for your dish and improve your eating experience often depends on your understanding of the properties of various varieties of rice.