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Basmati rice: preferred in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking



Filipinos like to add pandan leaves to rice while cooking but with basmati, there is no need. Basmati is a long-grain rice with the natural aroma and flavor of pandan leaves.

Biryani cooked with basmati rice

Has to do with something called 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline which basmati has twelve times more of than other rice varieties. Apart from the aroma and the flavor, basmati isn’t sticky and it fluffs wonderfully. Hence, it is preferred rice for cooking biryani and is popular in South Asia and the Middle East.

Basmati rice, is however, quite expensive if you buy it at the grocery and even more so if you buy at gourmet and health stores. It’s sold in health stores? Yes. Apparently, basmati has a “medium” glycemic index which makes it a good choice for diabetics and South Beach dieters. To get more value for your money, when buying basmati, go to Indian or Middle Eastern groceries.

Just as there is Chinatown, Korea Town, Little Vietnam and Little Japan in many countries, one often finds Little India too. Migration. And where people migrate, they bring their food. So, in areas where there is a substantial Indian or Middle Eastern community, there is bound to be Indian and Middle Eastern food stores. Locate them and buy your basmati from them.

At the Midtown Executive Homes along United Nations Avenue in Manila, there are three Indian stores right next to each other and they all sell basmati. The largest is Assad Mini Mart. I bought a kilo for PhP130.00 which is more than 50% cheaper than the price at regular groceries.

Assad Mini Mart has a branch in Marikina along Gil Fernando Avenue near the corner of Marcos Highway. It’s smaller than the United Nations Avenue store and some items are priced higher by ten pesos. But it has most of the stuff sold at the United Nations store. The Marikina branch is nearer our place and, factoring in the price of diesel, the extra ten pesos for some items can’t be such a bad deal.

Recipes using basmati / long grain rice: