A staggering 50% of Indian population eats and depends on rice —and there are about 6,000 varieties of this staple 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 something different based on the options below. We also enlighten you on how they can add nutrition and variety to your everyday cooking?
While in the case of white rice, the hull, bran, and germ are all polished off, in the processing of brown rice, only the outermost 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 fiber, 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 curry for a healthy and delicious meal.
Popular in South India, Bhutan, Tibet, and the Himalayan region, the nutty-flavored red rice is also a variety of un-hulled rice, like its brown counterpart! Its thriving red color 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 fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, selenium and several other nutrients that make it quite a power-packed food. Because of its lovely nutty flavor, this rice lends itself well to South Indian flavors cooking or even as a simple delicacy as 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. Much like red rice, black rice too is packed with antioxidants that 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) or have it with a stew or fish curry.