You will be surprised to know that there are more rice types than just white or brown rice. Oryza sativa, the scientific name of rice, includes more than 40.000 types of varieties. It is grouped into two main species: Indica and Japonica.
Indica is more cultivated with 80% of global production, while Japonica represents 15% of world production. These names may sound odd to you, but, fortunately, there is a simpler way of classifying rice, and it is by grain size.
This classification of rice by its size is the common way people recognize the different varieties. They do not only differ in their size, but also their texture, shape, and flavor.
- Short-grain rice: Round shape and sticky texture. It includes bomba or Valencian rice, Arborio, and sushi rice.
- Medium-grain rice: Shorter with a wider kernel. It has a moist and tender texture. Some types are Calrose, Carnaroli, and forbidden rice.
- Long-grain rice: Longer than wider. It has a dry and fluffy texture. Some rice types of this category are very fragrant with a nutty flavor. For example brown rice, Jasmine, and Basmati rice.
The 5 most consumed types of rice
Apparently, there’s too much information to learn at once. But do not worry; here we give you a list of the most consumed types of rice in the world, so you can decide which to choose to begin expanding your rice meals repertoire.
- Basmati: It is grown in India and Pakistan. It is part of the long-grain group. Its main attribute is its aroma of pandan leaves. The texture is soft and fluffy.
- Jasmine Rice: This is a long grain rice type very popular in Thailand. Its accentuated floral aroma and nutty taste are its distinctive characteristics. It has a sticky and soft texture.
- Bomba Rice: It is a Spanish rice type. It is grouped as short-grain rice with a very sticky texture. When cooking, it increases three times its volume but maintains its round shape.
- Carnaroli: A rice variety very popular in Italy. It is a medium-grain rice with high starch content. This grain absorbs a lot of liquid, resulting in a creamy texture.
- Arborio: A short-grain rice type cultivated in Italy. It also has a high content of starch which gives a creamy and chewy texture.
Cooking different rice dishes
Each of these rice unique characteristics gives recognizable texture and flavor to rice dishes. Countries have created several of their typical dishes based on these features.
A rice type widely used for making pilaf, biryani, and a side dish in many Indian dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Scottish Rabbit Curry, and Kerala Egg Roast. The most typical dish made with Basmati is Biryani, flavored rice with Indian spices, meat, vegetables, and gravy. Meat types used depend on the region and can be lamb, chicken, fish, goat, or prawn.
This is one of the main ingredients when preparing the famous Thai fried rice. It is street food with jasmine rice, onion, green onions, shrimps, Thai basil, garlic, bird’s eye chilies, and seasoned with fish sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
This variety is the star in all Paella recipes. The most popular is Valencian Paella, which is a traditional meal in Spain. It contains rabbit, chicken, snails, tomatoes, green beans, lima beans, vegetable stock, colored with saffron.
This type is preferred when cooking rice salads, risotto, and fried rice. Some people argue about using Carnaroli or Arborio in the risotto recipe. The truth is that Carnaroli is known as “the king rice” because it has a creamier texture and needs less liquid when cooking a typical Italian risotto.
A traditional rice dish with this grain is Risotto Alla Milanese, a pretty simple dish with a strong flavor. This golden risotto is made with Carnalori rice, onion, butter, beef stock, shallots, and white wine, topped with parmesan cheese.
Also used in risotto recipes thanks to its creamy texture which makes it desirable for this Italian specialty. This type of rice is broadly included in preparation like rice pudding and arancini. Rice pudding is a thick rice dessert with Arborio, milk, sugar, flavored with cinnamon, and vanilla. Almost every country has a version of this rice delight.
In India, Kheer is a rice pudding with coconut milk, cardamom, raisins, toasted almonds, and pistachios. In the Philippines it is called Biko, baked rice pudding with coconut milk, and a coconut crust. Swedish rice pudding is baked too, but it is served with sweetened cream and berries.
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