Rice is a staple food that is consumed by almost one-half of the world’s population. In many countries, rice is included in more than one meal a day. This staple food is of low cost, making it accessible and an essential base to many dishes. Many local spices and taste preferences of cultures are best represented in a rice dish (Briyani in India, Nasi Lemak in Malaysia, Risotto in Italy, Paella in Spain, Jambalaya in Southern US, Coconut Rice in Colombia, Steamed rice in China, Sushi in Japan, Sweet Rice in Portugal and the list can go on and on and on)

The scientific name for rice, Oryza sativa can be further broken down into long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain.  Below are the top 5 common rice varieties in Malaysia.

White rice

The grains of white rice is medium size with an average length of more than 6.5mm to 7.0mm and a width ratio of 3.0mm. It is commonly grown in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. They are tender once cooked and don’t have a distinct aroma. This makes them suitable for many Malaysian recipes such as Nasi Lemak, Ketupat, and many other Malaysian cuisines.

Ponni Rice

Ponni Rice is a short and plump grain which are developed by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 1986. These grains are firm. The process of ponni rice makes it more nutritious in Vitamin B and potassium. The cooked rice is firm yet tender with a slight springiness to the bite. Ponni Rice is versatile making it an ideal company for many rice accompaniments such as sambar, rasam, and curries. Some great recipes from ponni rice are dosa, crepes, and a variety of rice combinations such as lemon, tomato, and sambar. Not to forget it is also a fabulous ingredient for dessert delicacies.

Basmathi Rice

Basmathi Rice is one of the long-grain, rice grown from the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India and Pakistan. It is commonly known for its flavor, fragrance, and slender shape. For a stronger aroma and unique taste, it has to be aged for a longer period of time. Generally, producers age the rice for nine months but premium brands can go more than 18 months. It is very nutty and aromatic. When you think Briyani, Basmathi rice is an important ingredient in it.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a substitute for white rice. The grains are similar in size except for the color. The main difference between white rice and brown rice is, white rice is a refined grain whereas brown rice is a whole grain. It is rich in fiber which helps in maintaining cholesterol levels and promotes fullness. Brown rice takes a longer time to cook than white rice due to its extra layers. These extra layers of the grains give a chewier, nuttier texture than white rice.

Jasmine Rice

The difference between jasmine rice and white rice is the strong fragrance possessed by Jasmine rice. Jasmine rice, a long-grain rice variety, is vastly grown in Thailand. The cooked rice has a fluffy and sticky texture. It is more commonly used in Chinese dishes due to its strong aroma. Jasmine rice helps in regulating high blood sugar levels.