Basmati rice is a highly sought-after rice type that originates from South Asia, particularly Pakistan and India. It is widely recognized for its unique and delightful flavour and distinct aroma that adds a touch of sophistication to any dish it is added to. Basmati rice is among the most consumed rice types and is a staple in every Indian and Pakistani house. However, its appeal goes beyond its sensory qualities, as it also boasts several health benefits that make it superior to other rice varieties. If you’re curious about the advantages of Basmati rice, here are some key points that you should be aware of. So, happy reading.
Origin and History
At first glance, basmati rice may appear to be similar to other types of rice. However, a key difference can be detected simply by taking a whiff of the grain. Basmati rice has a unique and distinct aroma that is often compared to the scent of popcorn when cooked. In Hindi, the word “basmati” translates to “full of aroma” or “fragrant.” This rice is even referred to by some as the “queen of fragrant rice.”
Originating from India and Pakistan, basmati rice has been cultivated for thousands of years in the foothills of the Himalayas. While its origins remain somewhat unclear, archaeologists have discovered a variety of long-grain rice near Udaipur, India, dating back to 2000 to 1600 BC, which is considered an ancestor of the basmati rice we enjoy today. Basmati rice has become a staple in many Indian dishes and is now enjoyed around the world. This rice is available in two different varieties: white and brown. Both types have a nutty flavour and unique aroma. However, white basmati is more refined as it has had its hull, bran, and germ removed. Conversely, brown basmati rice only has the outer shell removed. Regardless of the type you choose, basmati rice is a delicious and healthy addition to any diet.
Health Benefits of Basmati Rice
Basmati rice, whether brown or white, has many health benefits, including:
Most types of rice, especially white rice, have a high glycemic index; basmati rice is much lower on the scale. With a glycemic index between 50 and 58, basmati rice is a medium-low glycemic index food. If you have diabetes, a small amount of basmati rice can be part of your healthy diet.
Along with a lower glycemic index, basmati rice can also contain a significant amount of fibre – just be sure to check the nutrition label. Eating more dietary fibre can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Low fibre intake can lead to digestive problems such as constipation. The fibre in basmati rice is soluble, which means it adds bulk and helps move waste through the digestive tract.
Improved Heart Health
Eating whole grains, such as brown basmati rice, is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Whole grains help reduce blood cholesterol levels. They also help reduce the risk of hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease.
Cancer Risk Reduction
When it comes to rice, brown basmati is the way to go if you’re looking for a high-fibre option. In fact, it contains about 20% more fibre than other types of brown rice and even more than its white counterpart. This is great news for those looking to reduce their risk of certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. Studies have shown that diets high in fibre can help lower this risk, and consuming at least 3 ounces of whole grains per day can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by about 17%. So, if you’re looking to make a healthy choice for your next rice dish, consider opting for brown basmati.
Better Brain Health
Basmati rice is enriched with B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine). Each serving contains 22% of the recommended daily intake. Thiamine is essential for brain health, and a deficiency can lead to a condition called Wernicke encephalopathy.
Nutritional Information of Basmati Rice
One serving of cooked white basmati rice contains:
Protein: 5 grams
Fat: 0.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 46 grams
Fiber: 0.7 grams
Sugar: 0 grams
Basmati rice also contains many important nutrients, including:
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
The nutrients found in white basmati rice are similar to those in other varieties of white rice. Similarly, brown basmati rice is comparable to other types of brown rice. Both types contain essential nutrients, but brown basmati rice has more fibre, phosphorus, zinc and B vitamins. Additionally, it has a lower glycemic index. Basmati white rice, however, is easier to digest.
How to Prepare Basmati Rice
Dry basmati rice is easily found in many grocery stores and is a versatile and nutritious addition to any meal. To properly prepare it, it is recommended to first rinse the rice well to remove any excess starch.
- Begin by placing the desired amount of dry rice into a container and filling it with a few centimetres of water.
- Shake the container to release the starch, and then drain the water. Repeat this process until the water becomes almost clear, then drain the rice using a colander.
- Next, place the rinsed rice in a saucepan and fill it with water. It is recommended to add 380/400ml of water for each cup of rice.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the flame to a minimum.
- Allow the rice to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to absorb the water. After this time, the rice should be soft and fully cooked.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes to allow the rice to fully absorb the water and become fluffy.
Whether you choose brown or white basmati rice, it is a nutritious and delicious side dish that pairs well with curries, soups and many other dishes. By following these simple steps, you can easily prepare perfectly cooked basmati rice every time.