What Is Basmati Rice and How Is It Different from Jasmine Rice?

I grew up eating boil-in-a-bag rice. My mom is a great cook and we ate really well growing up, but we were just more of a pasta family than a rice family. That is not the case for a lot of people on Earth, though. Rice is right up there with beans as the most popular staple food pretty much everywhere. And for every place where rice is popular, there is a different variety of rice. Today, let’s look at one of them: basmati rice.

What is basmati rice?

Basmati rice (pronounced baas-mathi, with the stress on the baas) falls in the category of aromatic rice. This category is named for the distinctive smell and nutty taste—jasmine rice is also a type of aromatic rice. *Putting on my lab coat now.* Aromatic rice gets that way because of a compound called 2-acytl-1-pyrroline. What does that mean? *Taking off my lab coat now.* I have no idea. But we can all be grateful it’s in there because the more 2-a-1-p a rice has, the better it is going to taste.

Where is basmati rice from?

Basmati rice is most common in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. As such, the rice appears in many of their traditional dishes. It is the rice most commonly found at Indian restaurants and pre-packaged Indian food in the United States.

It is, however, unfair to lump all basmati rice into a single category. There are nearly 20 approved strains of basmati rice that come from the Indian subcontinent, and another 10 from Pakistan. Each is bringing something different to the table.

What does basmati rice taste like?

Basmati is often described as nutty, but it also has a pretty strong floral component to it. It’s light, fluffy and complex.. 

Is basmati rice white rice and long grain rice?

There are two more ways to categorize rice: color and grain length. Basmati actually comes in two varieties: brown and white, but the white is far more common. In broad terms, brown rice is more fibrous and has less starch when compared white rice. There’s also a whole host of other colored rice, including black, red, and purple, but basmati only comes in white and brown.

Grain length is separated three ways: short, medium, and long. Short grain rice tends to be sticky and clump together, making it good for things like sushi. As the grain lengthens, the rice stays fluffier and more separate. All varieties of basmati rice are long grain.

What is the difference between basmati rice and jasmine rice?

At a glance, the differences between basmati rice and jasmine rice areimperceptible. Both are aromatic, long grain white or brown rices that look almost exactly alike. However, there are a few small but significant differences.

Jasmine rice is primarily grown in Southeast Asia, mainly Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. While it does still have that magic compound 2-a-1-p, it has less of it than basmati rice. That means Jasmine rice is slightly stickier than basmati. It is also sweeter and smells a bit more of plants like pandan.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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