Pantry Audit: Rice

February 9, 2007 | 18 Comments

Left to right: long grain brown rice, Bhutanese red rice, white Basmati, Rose Matta rice, short grain brown rice.

We eat a lot of home-baked bread and wheat-based products. Rice? Not so much. Hence, imagine our surprise when we did a pantry audit and found:

Number of wheat products – six.
Three types of flour (unbleached all purpose, whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour), semolina, multigrain pasta and whole wheat couscous.

Number of rice products? 10.
Five types of rice, puffed rice, flattened rice flakes, brown rice flour, brown rice cakes and a wild rice blend.

We’re south Indians after all, and the first solid meal we were fed was rice mixed with ghee and honey. In Kerala, at around the six-month mark, babies have a choroonu (rice feeding ceremony), and it is celebrated as a major milestone. No ritual in south Asia, irrespective of religion, is complete without rice.

Four of the five rices we use are either of the brown, or red variety. Brown rice is unmilled, has only the husk removed, and retains 100% of the bran. Red rice is semi-milled, with the husk and some of the bran removed. White rice is milled and polished to remove the husk and all the bran. Unlike white rices, brown/red rices are high in fibre, have a wonderful array of nutrients, and possess properties that help control blood lipids, and blood sugar levels.

In terms of taste, we actually prefer the nuttiness and wholesome flavour of brown/red rice varieties to that of white rice. The only white rice we use is basmati.

Long grain brown rice: Ours comes from California. We use it for dosas, uttappams, adais, and a variety of dishes that call for ground rice. We also give it a rip in the spice grinder for rice flour.

Short grain brown rice: Also from California. Makes great sushi, risottos, a regular main course, or partners with rose matta rice for sensational idlis.

White basmati rice: From the Himlayan foothills – a result of cross-breeding rice and saffron. Aromatic, delicate, perfect for pulaos and biryanis. We serve it when we have guests who may not be accustomed to the taste/texture of brown or red rice.

Our two favourite varieties:


Red parboiled rice from Kerala. We use it as a staple with veggies and curries, for idlis , and a host of other dishes that call for parboiled rice, as well as for traditional Kerala dishes like kallappam, and pal payasam.

Modus operandi: Pressure cook 1 cup of rice with three cups of water for three whistles, or cook on the stove top with 3 cups of water in a covered pan for around 40-45 minutes.


Fed by runoff from a 1000-year old glacier high in the Himalayas, this rice is grown with almost no pesticides or fertilisers. Nutty, and beautiful, it holds its shape and cooks faster than other brown/red rices. We use it in rice salads, or as a main course. This is a japonica variety, and excellent for sushi. It is an expensive indulgence, but worth every grain.

Modus operandi: Pressure cook 1 cup of rice with 2.5 cups of water for two whistles, then simmer for a few more minutes. Or cook on the stovetop with 2.5 cups water for 30-35 minutes.


Black rice is one of several black-colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian Black Rice, forbidden rice, or wild rice. High in nutritional and medicinal value, forbidden rice is rich in iron and considered a blood tonifier. Unlike other black rice from Asia, it is not glutinous or rough. This grain is high in fiber and has a deep, nutty taste. The deep color of black forbidden rice, and the deep purple color when cooked, suggests the presence of phytonutrients. It has a relatively high mineral content (including iron) and, like most rice, supplies several important amino acids.

It was enjoyed at the court of the ancient Chinese emperors for its nutritional properties. Most references say that it was reserved for the emperor’s table, and since it was probably shared with the emperor’s consorts, as well as other members of his family and the court at his discretion it was thus called “forbidden rice.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

Modus operandi: Rinse 1 cup of rice quickly. Soak it for 1 hour in 2 cups of water. In the same water (it is mineral-rich), cook on the stovetop or pressure cook for 2 whistles and simmer for a few more minutes.

Wild Rice: We cook it occasionally. It actually is a type of aquatic grass and does not belong to the rice family. We love this wild rice blend.

Brown rice flour: We usually make it by powdering long grain brown rice in the food processor. Used for thickening curries, and also in a variety of traditional south Indian dishes and snacks.

Flattened rice flakes/Poha/Aval: The brown rice variety can occasionally be found here under the ‘Nenmani’ brand. Used for various Indian snacks and desserts.

Puffed rice: (Kurmura/Murmura) Used in bhel, laddoos , chikkis and assorted goodies. We get the brown variety with no salt, no additives from the cereal aisle of the chain that everyone loves to hate (and sue).
Tip: If your puffed rice smells old and is no longer crisp, wake it up with a five-minute stint in a 350F oven.

Rice cakes: We love the salt-free version. Just two ingredients – brown rice and water. Slather with your favourite topping and enjoy a guilt-free snack.

Rice explained. More about rice.
On our ‘must-try’ list.
Nutritional profile of brown rice.

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  1. Suma Gandlur says:

    I have a question regarding the rose matta rice. How does it taste and is it healthier than the regular white rice?

  2. jaibee says:

    it tastes like any parboiled white rice. i personally think it is a more flavourful version of ponni parboiled rice. it is healthier because it retains some of the bran. it is great for kanji and idlis. (1.5 cups of rose matta to 1 cup of raw rice)

  3. InjiPennu says:

    What a lovely post! You just started posting only February? Are you sure? :)

    I was looking all over for Archives!!

  4. [...] 1/3 cup Rose Matta rice 1/4 cup long-grain brown rice 1/4 cup skinned, split black lentils (urad dal) 8-10 fenugreek [...]

  5. Ellen says:

    Can you substitute any other kinds of rice for the Rose Matta rice?

    arborio, any starchy rice, or short-grain brown rice. – bee

  6. [...] Manisha showed us how. We replaced the peanuts with sunflower seeds, and the sugar with dried cranberries. The puffed rice is generic, unsweetened, brown rice cereal. More about it here. [...]

  7. [...] tells us, and that’s what we used. The rices we used are Sona Masoori long-grain rice and Rose Matta parboiled [...]

  8. [...] use a combination of short-grained brown rice and parboilied red – Rose Matta rice. We use the combination of 2.5 cups rice to 1 urad dal. Increasing the proportion of Rose Matta [...]

  9. Simran says:

    Hey Guys,
    This is a very nice article, tell me where do I buy the brown rice cereal and salt free rice cakes from.


    we get rice cakes in any store (winco has them next to the chips). and the brown rice cereal in walmart. i can get you some the next time we meet. – b.

  10. [...] More about Rose Matta rice HERE. [...]

  11. [...] Black rice, or forbidden rice as it is sometimes known, is a nutritionally dense grain, rich in iron and phytonutrients. It is also a beautiful grain, turning a deep purple when cooked. More about it HERE. [...]

  12. [...] rices like Arborio, Vialone Nano or Carnaroli, we prefer to use whole grain glutinous rices like Rose Matta (See Rositto, the better [...]

  13. [...] is it a caramel colour. Add this to the curry.6. Top with the curry leaves. Usually served with Rose Matta rice, pappadam and mango [...]

  14. [...] Jugalbandi compares several different kinds of Indian rices. [...]

  15. [...] default option in our home is Rose Matta Rice. Also called Kuthari, this is red parboiled rice from Kerala. We use it for practically every dish [...]

  16. [...] LENTIL CURRY with rose matta rice and red onion [...]

  17. [...] We had ours with rose matta rice. [...]

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