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What is Basmati Rice and how is different from other varieties?

What is Basmati Rice?

Basmati is a type of long-grain aromatic rice.  Basmati rice is a special quality of rice that is grown in India and Pakistan. Basmati rice has a unique fragrance and flavor caused due to presence of a chemical called 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline. This chemical is found in Basmati rice at about 90 ppm (part per million), which is 12 times more than non-basmati rice varieties.
It is grown for many centuries in the specific geographical area, at the Himalayan foothills of Indian sub-continent, blessed with characteristics as extra- long slender grains that elongate at least twice of their original size with a characteristics soft and fluffy texture upon cooking, delicious taste, superior aroma and distinct flavor. Agro- climatic conditions of the specific geographical area as well as method of harvesting, processing and aging attribute these characteristic features to Basmati rice. Owing to its unique characteristics the “ scented Pearl” lends a touch of class that can transform even the most ordinary meal into a gourmet’s delight.
Basmati is also available in white or brown versions, depending on the extent of the milling process.

Areas of Cultivation in India:

The areas of Basmati Rice production in India are in the states of J & K, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand and western Uttar Pradesh.

Exports

India is the leading exporter of the Basmati Rice to the global market. The country has exported 40,00,471.56 MT of Basmati Rice to the world for the worth of Rs. 21,604.58 crores (or 3,230.24 US$ Mill.) during the year 2016-17

Major Export Destinations (2016-17): Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Kuwait.

How is Basmati rice different from other varieties?

Grain size and shape
Basmati is a long grain rice. The non-basmati rice comes in all different shapes and sizes- long, slender, short and thick, bead and round.

Aroma
Basmati has a characteristic fragrance and flavor. It contains a chemical compound called 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline which gives it aroma. Whereas non-basmati varieties, doesn’t have an aroma.

Aging
Like wine and cheese, the older it gets the better flavor and aroma it would extract. Hence the aged Basmati costs higher than the recent productions.

Post cooking elongation
Basmati rice becomes almost double its size on cooking. Such a significant increase in size cannot be seen in non-basmati varieties. This makes it one of the highly demanded rice in the world.

Stickiness
Cooked grains of Basmati rice are characteristically free flowing rather than sticky.

Yield
Yield of basmati rice from the agricultural land is almost half the non-basmati varieties. This is also one of the reasons for its higher costs.
Basmati is grown only in the Himalayan region of India or few parts of Pakistan whereas non-basmati varieties could be grown anywhere in the world.  

More breakage
Long and slender grains of basmati are more prone to breakage in the production process which involves milling and polishing of rice grain.

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