What is Jasmati Rice?
Jasmati rice is a hybrid rice varietal which is designed to harness the best parts of jasmine and basmati rice. It has a very distinctive rich, aromatic odor and a mild rice flavor paired with a soft texture which makes it suitable for a wide range of foods. Many rice growers in the Southern United States produce jasmati rice, and it is often available in markets or through special order in regions where unique rice varieties are difficult to obtain.
Since the rice varietals used to produce jasmati rice are both long grained, jasmati rice also has a long grain. The rice can be purchased in white or brown form. White jasmati rice has been hulled so that it has a shorter cooking time and a more mild, less nutty flavor. Brown jasmati rice has a longer cooking time, but a more complex flavor; since the flavor is more aggressive than the hulled varietal, it is not suitable for all foods, as it will overwhelm more mild dishes.
Jasmine rice has been cultivated in Thailand for centuries, and it is considered the rice of choice by many Thais. The rice is very aromatic, with a characteristic slightly floral scent which enhances many dishes; most people eat hulled jasmine rice. Basmati rice is an ancient Indian aromatic rice variety which has also been in active use and cultivation for centuries. In some parts of the world, these rice varietals are protected, which means that only rice from a certain region may be labeled “jasmine” or “basmati.”
The decision to blend the two varietals appears to have emerged in the United States, in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of jasmine and basmati rice. After several experiments, the successful blend was created in the early 1990s, and it went into mass-cultivation for consumers shortly afterwards. The release of jasmati raised concerns among Thai rice producers, who were concerned that the rice might reduce demand for jasmine rice. Several producers joined together to protect the interests of jasmine rice as a result.
In any recipe calling for long grain rice, jasmati rice can be used. Be aware that the texture of the rice is more soft than chewy, a trait taken from the Indian basmati in the blend. Like other types of rice, jasmati benefits from a thorough rinsing and soaking before cooking. Rinsing will remove any detritus leftover from the harvesting and shipping process, while soaking will reduce the cooking time.
I read an article about the Thai protests against Jasmati rice. The article claimed that Jasmati was not really a hybrid of Jasmine and Basmati, but an American version of an Italian long grain rice. The Thai farmers are actually not against Jasmati rice. They are worried that people will confuse real Jasmine rice with Jasmati rice and will stop purchasing both since Jasmati tastes a lot different.
I think they have a good point if it is true that Jasmati has nothing to do with Jasmine rice. But who knows? There would need to be an analysis of Jasmati rice by a third-party laboratory to figure out what type it really is. The article's claims might be false.
@feruze-- You should try the regular grocery store. The big grocery store near my house has not just Jasmati, but Texmati and Kasmati too.
All of these are just different versions of Basmati and Jasmine. I do think that Jasmati tastes really good and it is a little different than both Basmati and Jasmine. But Texmati and Kasmati are basically Basmati rice grown in the U.S.
I think the reason we're seeing all of these different names for almost the same rice is because the "Basmati" and "Jasmine" names have already been patented by Asian companies. This is not really true for Jasmati though since it is a whole new rice variety and rightfully has the combined names of its parents.
I always keep a sack of jasmati rice around and I use it in just about any dish that calls for rice. Sometimes these are the Indian and Asian inspired dishes that you would probably associate with this type of rice and sometimes they are a little stranger.
I once made a great chicken and rice dish straight of a Betty Crocker 1950s cook book with jasmati. It was amazing, so much better than it would have been with basic enriched rice. My kids also like to eat rice mixed with sausage and we always use jasmati. In fact, the kids demand it.
The only kind of dish where I avoid using jasmati is Mexican. It just doesn't pair well with the beans and spices.
I love both Jasmine and Basmati rice. I think that Jasmine has the best scent of all rice and Basmati has the best flavor. I can just imagine how great Jasmati must be with both of these qualities.
Surprisingly, I don't remember ever seeing Jasmati rice in the international grocery where I usually buy my rice. Considering how many 10 kilogram sacs of Basmati and Jasmine rice are sold at that store every week (a lot!), I think Thai rice producers worried for no reason because I don't really see Jasmati rice taking over Basmati or Jasmine.
It might be because people who are used to eating one of these have become very accustomed, even protective of it. I have Southeast Asian friends, for example, who refuse to eat any rice other than Basmati. They say that other kinds of rice don't satisfy their hunger. I'm not even sure if Jasmati is well know in Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
Has anyone been to Asia recently? Did you see Jasmati rice while you were there? It would be interesting to know if it is popular or unpopular in Asia.
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