By Dr. Muffazal Lakdawala
Founder & Chief Surgeon – Digestive Health Institute of Dr. Muffi
Rice is one of the most consumed and habitually available cereals in the world. In many countries, it is also a part of staple diet.
In Indian households, rice is staple food in any kitchen and is being included in numerous recipes. Rice is in various types and each type of it has its own texture, taste and its unique properties that also work well with different cooking applications.
Rice is available worldwide in several shapes, sizes and colours.
- Long-Grain Rice: Is roughly four times as long as it is wide, usage of long-grain types of rice is very common since they attain everyday fluffy grains that stay separated.
- Medium-Grain Rice: This type of rice is twice as long and wide. It is tender, moist, and a bit chewy, so the grains tend to stick together a bit.
- Short-Grain Rice: It is short and plump, when cooked the grains tick together and clump up.
- White Rice: Whole grains contain the bran, germ, and endosperm which is full of fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients. In the case of white rice, the nutritious germ and bran are removed generally to develop the taste, expand the shelf life and to improve its cooking qualities, which results in loss of fiber and vital minerals.
In 2012, a study analysis published in the BMJ gazed the relationship between white rice and the risk of type 2 diabetes. The authors of the study came up with a conclusion that high consumption of white rice is associated with a peril of type 2 diabetes. This was especially found in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations.
When consumed on a large scale, the excess starch amylopectin and less fiber increases the glycemic index which can cause a barb in blood sugar levels. The excess sugars that the body is not able to process are stored as fat, and the dearth of fiber results into less satiety which can eventually lead to over-eating. This is the reason why the general recommendation is to limit the amount of starchy carbs in your diet.
In India, we tend to indulge more than the required portion of white rice be it in the form of biryani, pulao, khichdi, etc. due to its delicious taste.
Basmati, which is a type of long grain white grown in the countries India and Pakistan. The enormously aromatic variety gets its vigorous flavor from an ageing process. It is been aged after harvesting for about one year.
Jasmine rice which is originally from Thailand consists a floral aroma. It is a long grain that cooks up soft and is slightly sticky.
Red cargo is a Thai long grain rice grown which is pulverized to remove the outer husk for the maintenance its layer of bran. This process results in a reddish-brown hue and also comprises of more nutrients as compared to the regular white rice. In comparison to jasmine rice it is chewier and needs a longer cooking time. Red cargo rice is primarily grown in Asia.
Sticky or glutinous rice grown in Asia does not actually comprise any dietary gluten. Also, it becomes sticky when cooked due to its high starch content.
White and opaque type is commonly used in sweet and savory preparations. Turn this sticky rice into rice pudding or soak it in sweet coconut milk and enjoy with fresh mango.
Parboiled, is type of rice which undergoes a process in which it is soaked, streamed and ultimately dried with its husk. An advantage of the process followed for is that all the nutrients from the husk are engrossed into the grain before it’s been removed. As compared to white rice, cooked parboiled rice is less sticky.
5. Brown Rice: Whole grains are always a healthy cereal option one can go for. Brown rice is a whole grain which is available in both long and short grain varieties, it is a healthier substitute to white rice as it contains both bran and germ. It comprises of amylose, fiber, healthy fat, B complex vitamins, magnesium, etc. which is absent in white rice. Whole grains contain fiber, nutrients, and plant compounds which increases the feeling of fullness, preventing overeating as well as a spike in blood sugar levels. Cooked brown rice has slightly chewy texture and also has nutty flavor.
Sushi rice is white or brown Japanese short-grain rice. Its high starch content is the reason behind the stickiness which is required to make your favorite types of sushi.
Arborio rice is large and bold and also has a unique white dot in the center of the grain. The usage of Arborio is habitually in Italian cooking style for risotto as it can engross the liquid and flavor over slow cooking.
Valencia rice is a Spanish short grain and it is most often used for paella. When cooked it is soft and moist due to the high starch content. It is a part of very famous Spanish dish. It is perfect match for stews, soups, and stuffing as well.
In China black is a type of rice which was exclusively fed only to emperors. It is also recognized as ‘forbidden’ or ’emperor’s rice.’ The black colour is due to its high level of anthocyanin, the same antioxidant found in eggplant, blueberries, and purple corn. It is also rich in nutrients, this medium-grain rice is habitually used in Asian cuisine.
Matta or Rosematta rice is grown especially in India and it is medium and reddish in colour. Its bran layer is filled with natural nutrients and also known for its healthy plain flavor and is appropriate to slow-cooking stews and rich curries.
Wild rice is referred to as a grass! Habitually it is grown in wetlands, specially in and around lakes, rivers, and bays, this woodsy enigma has its origins in the upper Great Lakes region of the United States. The covering splits open and when cooked the grain curls up revealing a unique white interior. Wild rice brags a toasty flavor which is likely similar to black tea.
The biggest dilemma faced by many rice lovers is whether it leads to weight gain or weight loss, followed by various myths surrounding its consumption.
The fact that brown or black or parboiled is the healthier alternatives to white rice does not prohibit one from consuming it. Mixing different types of rice can be a beneficial way in order to gain nutrition as well as retain the taste and flavor. What matters the most is the quantity of rice you consume.