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9 Most Popular Types of Rice in India – A Complete Guide

by Jayashri
Indian Rice Featured


Rice… Rice… Rice… Majority of the World’s population consume rice as their staple food, especially in India.

Rice is full of Energy due to its carbohydrate, minerals and vitamin content.

Knowledge of most Popular Indian Rice Types is necessary to learn Indian Cooking.

If you know How to Cook Indian Rice Perfectly, then you can unlock MOST of the FAMOUS Indian Combos like

1. Rice & Sambar
2. Rice & Chicken curry
3. Rice & Mutton Curry
4. Rice & Fish curry
5. Rice & Poondu Kulambu/Garlic Gravy, etc.

The Sky is the Limit!

Let’s dive right in.



Different Types of Rice Varieties

The Rice varieties can be categorized into three types; namely,

  • Long-Grain Rice
  • Medium-Grain Rice
  • Short-Grain Rice


New to Indian Cooking?

If you are a beginner or someone who is not sure on how to get started in Indian Cooking, please click on the below links for STEP By STEP GUIDE.

1. Essential Indian Cooking Tools – A Complete Guide for setting up basic Indian Equipment for cooking.
2. Essential Indian Spices – A Comprehensive Guide explaining the basics of Indian Spices which are Important for cooking Indian Foods.


Long-Grain Rice

Basmati Rice

Basmati is a long-grain rice variety.

It has a long, slender kernel that is stiff and retains its shape even after cooking.

Basmati Rice Long Grain

This variety of long-grain rice grows only in certain regions. Hence, it is usually priced on the expensive side.

These long-grain rice are said to be the most popular amongst all the rice varieties. They have a very mild fragrance and taste a little sweet.

Usually, basmati rice does not have a sticky nature, unlike other rice varieties. They are dry even after cooking. This is also one of the reasons for it being so popular in Indian Cooking.

Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice is used for preparing:

  • Chicken Biryani,
  • Mutton Biriyani,
  • Jeera Rice,
  • Ghee Rice,
  • Pulao & Briyani Varieties etc.

They are also used to prepare sweet varieties like

  • Rice Kheer,
  • Coconut-Rice Payasam,
  • Meethe Chawal,
  • Phirni etc.

Medium-Grain Rice

Ponni & Sona Masoori Rice

Ponni Rice

Ponni & Sona Masoori are medium grain rice variety.

Ponni rice is also known as Full-boiled rice, whereas Sona Masoori is known as Half-boiled rice.

They are usually non-aromatic and are popular in South Indian states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Sona Masoori is commonly known as Par-Boiled rice (Half Boiled) or Puzhungal Arisi in Tamil or simply White rice.

Since this rice variety is partially boiled in the husk, it is cooked faster compared to Raw Rice (Pacharisi in Tamil).

These rice varieties are the most commonly used one to prepare plain white rice.

They are eaten along with:

  • sambar,
  • rasam,
  • curd,
  • chicken kolambu (chicken curry),
  • mutton kolambu (mutton curry),
  • puli kolambu,

And are used to prepare:

  • puliogare,
  • lemon rice, and other variety rice recipes.


These rice are also easier to digest as it is par-boiled or full-boiled.

The par-boiling process includes – soaking, steaming and drying. Boiled rice is as nutritious as Brown rice.

These medium grain rice are usually fluffy and soft once cooked.


Idly Rice

Idly Rice is another rice variety and is par-boiled medium grain rice.

This rice is exclusively used to prepare idly and dosa batter in South India.

It looks similar to Ponni rice but is slightly thick and shorter comparatively.

It is ground along with urad dal or skinned black gram lentil to make softer idlies and crispy dosas.


Raw Rice (Pacharisi)

Raw Rice or Pacharisi in Tamil, is another medium-grain rice variety.

It is NOT Par-Boiled, hence the name Raw rice.

This rice variety is used to prepare Indian dishes like

  • Appam,
  • Puttu

And snacks like

  • murukku,
  • ribbon pakoda,
  • thattai,
  • seedai

And desserts like

  • sweet kolukattai,
  • paal kozhukattai etc.

Red Rice or Palakkad Matta Rice

Red Rice or Palakkad Matta Rice is one of Kerala’s iconic rice variety.

This rice variety is primarily grown in Palakkad region in Kerala. They are par-boiled too, in order to retain its vitamins, minerals and nutrients completely.

This rice is also used in other South Indian states to prepare Athirasam or Kajjaya sweet and tastes super delicious.


Brown Rice

Brown Rice, is also known as Hand-Pounded Rice or Kai Kuthal Arisi in Tamil.

This rice is slightly thicker compared to the normal Ponni or Par-boiled rice.

The major difference between the two is – in brown rice the outer shell is removed leaving the bran intact, which is not the case in Ponni or Par-boiled rice.

It takes a slightly longer time to cook compared to white rice(ponni or sona masoori).

It is a healthier option to substitute it in place of white rice.


Beaten Rice (Aval)

Beaten Rice, or flattened rice is a flat form of raw rice.

It is usually as thin as a paper, dry and light.

They absorb liquid like water, milk, etc and swell up to be it hot or cold. The thickness varies from very thin to slightly thick.

This rice variety is easily digestible and popular across India. It is widely used to prepare snacks and breakfast recipes.

Beaten rice can be eaten raw by immersing it in plain water or milk, with salt and sugar to taste, or lightly fried in oil with nuts, raisins and other spices.



Short-Grain Rice

Jeera Rice (Seeraga Samba)

Seeraga Samba Rice or Jeera Rice is a tiny-grained or short-grained rice variety popular in South India.

It is flavourful and aromatic. It resembles the size of cumin seed and hence, gets the name seeraga samba (Cumin in Tamil is called as seeragam).

Short-grain rice usually has a little sticky nature and are cooked faster.

Also, this rice variety is easier to digest and healthier too as they contain a lot of fibre and other nutrients.

Indian Recipes to cook with Seeraga samba rice:

  • Chettinad Style Biryanis,
  • Pulaos,

And variety rice recipes like

  • Fried Rice
  • Tomato Biryani
  • Jeera Rice
  • Coconut Milk Rice (Thengai Paal Rice)



Popular Rice Types And Their Different Dishes

RICE TYPEDISHES PREPARED
Ponni/Puzhungal Arisi/Full-Boiled RicePlain White Rice/Steamed Rice, Ven Pongal, Variety Rice etc.
Sona Masoori Rice/Half-Boiled RicePlain White Rice/Steamed Rice, Ven Pongal, Variety Rice etc.
Basmati RiceBiryani Varieties, Pulao Varieties, Variety Rice, Kheer etc.
Seeraga Samba/Jeera RiceBiryani Varieties, Pulao Varieties, Variety Rice etc.
Beaten RiceAval Upma, Aval Kesari/Halwa, Savouries etc.
Idly RiceIdly/Dosa Batter
Raw RiceKolukattai, Dosa Batter, Snacks, Puttu, Appam etc.
Red RiceAthirasam/Kajjaya, Cooked rice with curry



Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

Why should you eat Rice?

Rice is rich in carbohydrates and vitamins which are essential for our body on daily needs.

Make sure to eat rice in limited quantity, as too much of carbohydrates can increase your bad cholesterol and also adds body weight.

Brown rice is a much healthier vesrion of rice as it contains more fibre compared to white rice.

Full-boiled or par-boiled rice is also considered healthy than white polished rice.



What Rice variety is good to eat with Indian Curries like Sambar, Rasam, Poondu Kolambu, Chicken or Mutton Kulambu, Fish Curry etc. ?

I usually prefer Ponni (Full-Boiled) Rice to eat along with these Indian Curries like sambar, rasam, and other kolambu varieties. Generally, in South Indian restaurants they serve Sona Masoori or par-boiled rice along with Thali Meals.

I personally don’t prefer sona masoori rice as I have had a bad experience with it.

Sona masoori is half boiled rice, and hence, it can make your stomach upset or tough to digest the rice.

Whereas that’s not the case with Ponni as it’s fully boiled rice.


Which Rice variety to use for making Biryani & Pulao Varieties?

In South India, especially Tamilnadu, Seeraga Samba rice is used to prepare biryani and pulao varieties.

They are tiny short grain rice and tastes yummy compared to basmati rice. Seeraga samba rice is also healthy and easy to digest compared to basmati.

Other parts of India, use Basmati rice for preparing biryani and pulao varieties.

The famous Hyderabad Biryani, Mughlai Biryani, Dum Biryani are prepared using Basmati rice.

Whereas, Dindigul Thalapakatti Biryani, Ambur Biryani, Chettinad Biriyani, Donne Biryani etc are prepared using Seeraga Samba Rice.


Which Rice & Dal should you use to make Idly/Dosa Batter?

Generally, Idly Rice (par-boiled and slightly thicker) and Skinned Black Gram (Whole or Split) is used to prepare Idly/Dosa Batter.

You may also use little raw rice or beaten rice to make more crispy dosas. In addition, 1-2 tsp of fenugreek seeds are added to give it some fragrance.

The rice needs to be washed and soaked for at least 3-4 hours before grinding it.

Make sure to use black gram after removing the skin. You may use whole black gram after removing the skin or split black gram too.

I usually prefer whole and de-skinned black gram, commonly known as urad dal. It needs to be soaked for at least 2-3 hours before grinding.


What is the Ratio of Rice & Dal for preparing Idly/Dosa Batter?

Ratio of Rice:Dal = 4:1; which means –
If you take 4 cups of Rice, you need to take 1 cup of Dal in the same cup.
If you take 2 cups of Rice, you need to take 1/2 (half) cup of dal in the same cup.
And, add 1-2 tsp of Fenugreek Seeds as well.


What is the Ratio of Rice & Water to prepare plain cooked white rice for sambar,rasam or any Indian Curry?

The ratio of Rice: Water = 1:2; which means –
If you take 1 cup of Rice, you need to take 2 cups of water in the same cup.
If you take 2 cups of Rice, you need to take 4 cups of water in the same cup.


What is the Ratio of Rice & Water to prepare Biryani or Pulao using Basmati or Seeraga Samba Rice?

The ratio of Rice: Water = 2:3; which means –
If you take 2 cups of Rice, you need to take 3 cups of water in the same cup.
If you take 1 cup of Rice, you need to take 1.5 cups of water in the same cup.


Which rice type should I eat to lose weight?

Brown rice is the best option to choose when it comes to diet or losing body weight. It contains more fiber and fills up your stomach faster and prevents you from overeating.




Now that you have got a Basic understanding of Indian Rice varieties, you should definitely check out:

How to Cook Indian Rice Perfectly

(Step by Step with Answers to Burning Questions)


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