Types of Rice

Long grain rice

American long grain
Originated in the Patna region of India but is now widely grown in the southern states of USA. The grains are four to five times as long as they are wide and when cooked should produce a light, fluffy texture. It can be white or brown.

White rice has been ‘fully milled’, meaning that the bran coating has been completely removed from the grain. Brown rice still has the bran layer on and is sometimes known as ‘whole rice’. It is more nutritious than white and has a more flavour, although it will take longer to cook.

Indian basmati
This is a very good quality long-grain rice. The grains are long and slender and are not too absorbent, so the grains stay separated when cooked. The texture is also light and fluffy when cooked. Look for the word ‘pure’ on the label as some producers cross breed with cheaper rices.

Easy cook
This is a par-boiled rice. Par-boiling is an ancient process used for storing rice. It is partially boiled in the husk and there are three basic steps to it – soaking, steaming and drying. It shortens the final cooking time but the texture and flavour can suffer.

Thai Fragrant or Jasmine
A long-grain rice with a delicate flavour and sweet fragrance. It is slightly glutinous.

Serve with spicy Thai, Vietnamese or Malaysian curries, or steamed Oriental fish.

Short grain rice

Italian arborio
Comes from the Po River valley in northwest Italy. It has short, round grains that swell but retain some bite. The chalky outer layers break down during cooking to produce a creamy consistency but slight al dente texture. Perfect for a risotto.

Carnaroli risotto
This rice has a higher content of resistant starch than arborio so it is not as easy to overcook. Overcooking results in a stodgy risotto.

Both arborio or carnaroli can also be used in minestrone or rice puddings simmered on the hob.

Pudding rice
A short-grain rice used in baked rice puddings.


Cooking Rice

To cook long grain white rice, measure double the volume of cold water to rice (560ml/20 fl oz water to 280g/10 oz rice will serve four). Pour the water in a medium sized pan and add the rice. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a low setting and simmer very gently for 12–15 minutes without lifting the lid. The water should have been absorbed. If not, cook for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to rest, cover with a tea towel and then lid tightly for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork before serving.

Brown rice takes longer to cook, about 30–40 minutes.

All rice, however it is cooked, benefits from a final standing period. Once it is cooked, cover the pan with a tea towel, lid tightly, and leave for five minutes. The towel absorbs the steam from the rice, producing a fluffy, non-stodgy result.