Scientific Name - Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice)
Rice – A Tiny White Grain
Rice or Chawal is a staple food consumed all over the world cultivated mainly in Asian countries. Rice is native to Asia, where a large variety of rice is grown. Rice is found in many different colors like brown rice, white rice, black rice, yellow rice also is differentiated according to the size and shape.
Rice is a perennial crop grown in different atmospheres depending on the availability of water. Rice is grown in many types of lands like lowland rainfed, and lowland irrigated, deep water, coastal wetland, as well as upland drought-prone areas.
Rice has cultural and religious importance in many regions and cultures. Rice is used in worship and wedding rituals in India, Nepal, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.
Season That Yields Rice
Rice is grown in wet as well as the dry season in tropical regions and harvested when the moisture content in rice grain is 25%.
Taste & Aroma Of Rice
The taste of rice varies according to its color; also, the texture changes along with the color. Brown rice is nutty in flavor and chewy and firmer than white rice. While white rice is mild in taste as compared to the brown rice; and has a soft texture when cooked.
Top Most Culinary Uses Of Rice
Khichdi: Khichdi is a recipe famous in the Indian sub-continent made using rice, pigeon gram, turmeric, and salt as the main ingredients. All the ingredients are soaked in water and boiled and cooked in water to make a tasty and straightforward Khichadi. Sometimes vegetables like onion, tomato, potato, green peas are sautéed in oil or butter; soaked rice and pigeon gram is added and cooked in water.
Biryani: Biryani is another delicacy loved by people of the Indian sub-continent and got fame all over the world. There are many variants of Biryani like vegetable Biryani, Chicken Biryani, Lamb Biryani, and Prawn Biryani. Biryani is made by an alternate layering of half-cooked vegetables or meat with half-cooked rice and mint, coriander, and fried onion rings. Biryani is served as a main course meal with Dal-Tadka, Raita or spicy meat curry.
Idli-Dosa: Idli-Dosa is a south Indian delicacy cooked in every household, at every restaurant and street food joints. Rice is a staple food of South Indian states of India used in the cooking of almost every dish.
Idli-Dosa is cooked out of batter made of soaked rice and black gram. Soaked rice and black gram are ground together and fermented for 7 to 8 hours before making Idli or Dosa.
Rice Kheer: Rice Kheer is a sweet dish made with rice, milk, dry fruits, sugar, and clarified butter. Rice is roasted in clarified butter and simmered cooked in milk. Once the rice becomes soft and milk gets thicken, roughly chopped dry fruits, and sugar is added to it and cooked for another five minutes. Rice Kheer is served as dessert also offered to devotees on any religious festival.
Rice-Pudding: Rice pudding is a dessert made of rice, milk, cinnamon, raisins, eggs, and sugar. Cook rice, milk, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan to make it thick and creamy mix. Add some more milk, raisins, and beaten eggs, and sugar in the rice mix and cook for a while to make a creamy, smooth rice pudding dessert.
Coconut Rice: Coconut rice is a sweet dish made with fresh coconut, coconut milk, rice, dry dates, and sugar. Fresh coconut is grated and cooked with rice in coconut milk added with chopped dry dates and sugar. Coconut rice is made on a special occasion, Full moon night of month August in India to celebrate ‘Raksha-Bandhan.'
Chinese Rice: Chinese rice is cooked in many ways making many tasty varieties of rice like Schezwan rice, Manchurian rice, and fried rice. Chinese rice recipes are made by using various sauces, Ajinomoto, and a lot of garlic.
Rice Cakes: Rice cakes are ubiquitous in Asian countries where rice is cultivated in abundance. Rice cake is a dish made by combining rice and making a cake like a dish. Some of the rice cakes recipes are Nian Gao, Tangyuan, Tteok, Mochi, Patoleo, Puto, Bhapa Pitha, and Tachin.
Chivda: Chivda is a dish made in the Indian sub-continent served as a tea time snack. Chivda is also served with yogurt in north Indian states of India during January. Chivda is made with flattened rice and puffed rice roasted and tempered in curry leaves, peanuts, mustard seeds, green chili, and spices.
Chakli: Chaki is an Indian snack made using flour made of roasted rice, black gram, Bengal gram, green gram, and coriander seeds. The mixed flour is kneed to a dough and drawn in spiral pretzel shape; deep-fried until becomes crunchy.
Rice Noodles: Noodle is a ubiquitous dish favorite all over the world cooked in a mix of sauces. Noodles are drawn from dough made of rice flour, semolina, eggs, and salt; dried and stored to use it whenever required.
Rice-Flour: Rice flour is used to make Indian flatbreads also known as ‘Chaval Roti’ served commonly in coastal regions of India with fish curry. In coastal areas, rice is grown in abundance, so it replaced wheat in many dishes.
Poha: Poha is a breakfast food cooked in India, commonly found at the food joints in Maharashtra state. Poha is made of flattening rice, tempered in curry leaves, green chili, peanuts, and coriander leaves; garnish with grated coconut. Poha is served with pulses curry, Kadi, or Rajma curry.
Rice Momo: Momo is a dish that originated in the Northeast part of India made with vegetables, minced meat, and all-purpose flour. Momos are the dumplings made by stuffing the vegetable or meat in a pocket formed of all-purpose flour and steamed, served with chutney or sauce. Sometimes all-purpose flour is replaced with rice flour to make it healthier.
Rice Dhokla: Dhokla is a recipe originated in Gujrat state of India made from rice, Bengal gram, black gram, and some spices. Dhokla looks like small sponge cakes; have a savory, sweet, and sour taste. All the ingredients are soaked and ground to paste with spices like green chili, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and yogurt. The batter is fermented overnight, poured in a flat vessel, and steamed to make spongy Dhokla.
Indian Rice: In India, rice is cooked with very different methods in every state and region. Some of the rice types are Spinach Rice, Lemon Rice, Vegetable Pulav, Curd Rice, Fish Pulav, Bissi Bele Pulav, Vaghela Pulav, Chhole Rice, Methi Pulav, and Egg Pulav.
Risotto: Risotto is a dish cooked in the northern region of Italy. Risotto is a dish with a creamy consistency made of rice cooked in the broth of vegetables or meat. Risotto also contains onions, wine, and butter as other ingredients and saffron are used to bring the yellow color to the dish.
Alcoholic Drinks: Rice is used to make some alcoholic drinks like rice, beer, and rice wine. Rice wines are produced and consumed in Asian countries where rice production is on a large scale.
Nutrition Provided By Rice
Rice varies in nutrition according to the soil in which it grows; more the nutritious soil more the nutrition in rice grains. Nutrition in rice depends on the color of rice like brown, red, white, and black varieties, which grows in different parts of the world. Rice nutrition content also depends on the method of cooking it.
Rice is 68% water, 28% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and minimal content of dietary fats. Rice contains very less amount of essential dietary nutrients like B group vitamins and dietary minerals like manganese and iron.
Health Benefits Of Rice
Energy Provider: Rice is an energy source as it is full of carbohydrates that are required for the healthy functioning of all organs in the body. The nutrients found in rice are used for increased functioning and metabolic activities of the body.
Helps To Maintain Weight: Rice is one of the main ingredients of a balanced diet. Rice does not affect the body as it contains meager contents of fats, cholesterol, and sodium, which is used to maintain body weight and keeps obesity away.
Anti-inflammatory: Rice is free o any gluten, so it is good for gut health, causing no inflammation. Rice consumption is good for people who have celiac disease.
Regulates Blood Pressure: Rice is perfect for the people who are tired of high blood pressure as rice contains the meager amount of sodium which is responsible for the contraction of veins and arteries. Contraction of blood vessels prone to high blood pressure and hence put stress on the cardiovascular system.
Fights Cancer: The insoluble fiber content of rice is used to fight against the carcinogenic growth of gut and colon cells. Rice contains vitamin C, vitamin A and other compounds that are used to fight against the free radicals present in the body.
Skin Friendly: Rice is useful for skin health as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Rice is consumed, or powdered rice is topically applied to skin inflammation for soothing. A pack of rice, when applied to the skin, can delay the wrinkles and premature aging signs because of anti-oxidant property.
Prevents Nervous Diseases: The high nutrient content in Brown rice is helpful to stimulate the growth and functionality of neurotransmitters. Some wild species of rice are found to be useful to encourage the growth of enzymes that protects neurons against free radicals. This property helps to fight against dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Good For Digestion: Rice is useful to keep good digestive health and cure stomach ailments. Rice is helpful in dysentery as the husk of rice is found to be active on such diseases. The fiber content in rice is beneficial for proper bowel movement keeping away the risk of any stomach cancer.
Good Heart Health: With increased awareness of health, people started to change their diet according to their exact body needs. One of the major enemies of heart health is found to be the high cholesterol level in cooking oil. But using rice bran oil is the best remedy for such a problem as it contains antioxidants that fight against free radicals reducing cholesterol levels in the body.
A Brief & Interesting History Of Rice
The wild variety of rice is found native to Australia, but the rice was first domesticated some 8,200-13,500 years ago in China. Pieces of evidence suggest that rice was cultivated in China in the valley of Pearl and Yangtze Rivers.
From China rice traveled to the south-east and south Asian countries and the western countries of Asia. European countries got introduced to rice through western Asian countries which were nearer to them. Later European colonists took rice along them to the American Continent.
Cultivation Of Rice & It’s Worldwide Production
Rice is cultivated in hot and humid atmospheric conditions with heavy rainfall or high water supply. Rice grows in a variety of soils like loam, gravels, and silts; also rice plants can grow well in acidic as well as basic soils. Any type of soil is fine for the rice crop, but a loamy, clayey soil with rich fertility is best for prosperous rice yield.
China is the leading country to produce rice with India on the second number; China and India produce 49% of the total world’s rice production. Other rice-producing countries are Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar.