Rice is a common name for about nineteen (19) species of annual herbs, of the grass family. Common rice is the only species of importance to humans. It is native to South East Asia and has been cultivated for more than 7000 years; evidence of cultivation has been found in eastern China dating from before 5000BC and in a cave in northern Thailand from about 6000BC. Common rice thrives in considerable warmth and moisture. It reaches a height of about 1 metre (about 3ft) with the perfect flowers bearing six stamen and a solitary pistil. The fruit, a grain is produced on a nodding panicle of spikelet at the top of the stalk.
Rice grains are extensively used as human foods, it constitutes the principal food of almost one-half the human race. The bran of the rice contains protein and vitamins B complex, E, and K. White rice, which is rice from which the nutritious bran has been removed is an inferior food. Recognition of the nutritional value of the rice bran has led to some increase in the consumption of brown rice, which is the rice grain from which the bran has not been removed.
Polished rice contains approximately 25 percent of carbohydrate, small amounts of iodine, iron, magnesium and phosphorus; and almost negligible amount of fat and protein. In East Asia, starch is sometimes extracted from rice and fermented to produce rice wine. Unlike most other cereals rice is rarely made into bread.
It is cultivated in most countries of East Asia. Egypt and the countries of southern-most Europe, the Southern United States and brazil are other important rice-producing regions. It requires an extremely moist soil, either rain-fed or artificially flooded. A few varieties known as upland rice do not require flooding. In the developing rice-growing countries, almost all cultivation is performed by hand. Rice growing in the United States is aided by machinery. A flooded field or paddy is sown with seed from an airplane, the field is kept under water during most of the growing season, and the crop is harvested and threshed by a single machine. Rice mills are usually located near the growing regions.
In the 1960s, experiment by the International Rice Research Institute produced a variety of rice that promised to increase world output dramatically. Working with dwarf varieties of rice from Taiwan and with disease-resistant, high-yield varieties from other areas in Asia, researchers developed short vigorous, narrow-leaved rice that yielded more grain and survived unfavourable weather more successfully than traditional varieties.
· The colour is the distinguishing feature; it is also known as wholegrain rice.
· Both give clues about the character of the rice – it is rice that has undergone minimal milling.
· This removes the husk, but retains the bran layer and thus more of the vitamins, minerals and
· It has a long grain and a distinctly nutty flavour. It is also available in easy-cook form.
Long grain rice
· Long grain rice is milled to remove the husk and bran layer.
· The grain is white, slim and four to five times as long as it is wide.
· Unlike regular rice which is milled direct from the field, it is steamed under
pressure before milling.
· The most famous type is Basmati rice, which has a distinct flavour and
smell and is used in Indian dishes.
· Long grain rice is also suitable for braised dishes such as Pilaff and Biryani.
Short grain rice
· More accurately called pudding rice, the grains are short, tubby and chalky
in appearance and cling together on cooking.
· It is very soft when cooked and is also suitable for dishes cooked in the
· Pudding rice typically comes from Italy and is the one to use for puddings
· Glutinous rice (also called sweet or sticky rice) has a round, pearl-like grain which turns
sticky when cooked. It tastes slightly sweet and is used in some Japanese savoury
Thai / Jasmine rice
· A fragranced rice like Basmati, although its flavour is slightly less pronounced.
· Originating in Thailand, it differs from other long grain rice’s in that it has a soft and slightly
sticky texture when cooked.
· This rice is good with both Chinese and southeast Asian food.
· Wild rice is not true rice at all, but an aquatic grass
· The grains are long and slim and range in colour from dark brown to black,
with a nutty flavour
· It is grown in the USA and Canada, where it was the traditional food of the
· It is often mixed with other types of rice such as white or brown long grain
and basmati, providing an attractive contrast of colour and flavour.
· Also known as Arborio rice, coming from Italy.
· It absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid.
· When cooked, it becomes very creamy but does not lose its structure, making it the ideal rice
for the preparation of risottos.