Rice For The Wise
When shopping for this favourite Indian staple, pick between a wide array of colours and types that each have a unique and power-packed nutritional benefit
A staggering 50 per cent of our population eats and depends on rice—and there are about 6,000 varieties of rice available. While white rice still holds supremacy when it comes to the Indian palate, especially in the north, the indigenous brown, red and black varieties are slowly but surely making their way into the Indian kitchens and restaurants. When shopping for rice, you can pick based on the options below. We also tell you how they can add nutrition and variety to your everyday cooking.
While in case of white rice, the hull, bran and germ are all polished off, in the processing of brown rice, only the outer most layer or the hull is removed. This is the reason why it retains its antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and is therefore considered a whole grain and so a healthier carbohydrate. Packed with magnesium, calcium, niacin (vitamin B3), selenium, copper and phosphorus, it’s also an excellent source of fibre, which keeps you feeling full longer, and therefore may aid weight loss. This versatile grain can be used to make a healthy pulav, porridge, salad or simply had with a curry for a healthy and delicious meal.
Popular in South India, Bhutan, Tibet and the Himalayan region, the nutty-flavoured red rice is also a variety of un-hulled rice, like its brown counterpart. Its beautiful red colour is due to the presence of anthocyanins, flavonoids with antioxidant effects that counter free radicals in the body. Much like brown rice, red too is high in fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, selenium and several other nutrients that make it a power-packed food. Because of its lovely nutty flavour, this rice lends itself well to South Indian flavours cooking or even as a simple dal-khichdi.
Also called the forbidden or purple rice, this slightly sticky rice is known to have the highest amount of protein as compared to all rice varieties, almost double of that of brown rice. A 100 gram of black rice is said to have about 8.5 grams of protein and 4.9 grams of fibre. Much like red rice, black rice too is packed with antioxidants which help fight chronic diseases such as cancer and heart ailments and reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. On cooking it, black rice turns a lovely hue of purple, which can add drama and style to an otherwise simple dish. Indigenous to the north-east region of the country, this rice is extensively grown in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Since this superfood is now easily available--online and otherwise--you can easily swap white with black rice in a pudding (kheer), have it with a stew or fish curry.