Brown regular rice (left) compared to brown basmati rice.
Indian white basmati rice cooked.

Basmati (pronounced IPA: [baːsmət̪iː] in South Asia) is a variety of long, slender-grained aromatic rice which is traditionally from the Indian subcontinent.[1] As of 2014, India exported 65 percent of the overseas basmati rice market, while Pakistan accounted for the remainder, according to the state-run Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. However, many countries use domestically grown basmati rice crops. [2]

History and etymology

"Basmati" derives from the Hindi word bāsmatī, literally meaning "fragrant"[3] (Sanskrit बासमती vasmati). Basmati rice is believed to have been cultivated in the Indian subcontinent for centuries. The earliest extant work to mention basmati rice is Heer Ranjha (1766).[4][5]

Basmati was introduced to the Middle East by Indian traders. Through cultural exchange, it remains not only an important part of various Indian/Pakistani cuisines, but now is also used extensively in Persian, Arab, and other Middle Eastern cuisines as well. India and Pakistan are the exclusive growers and exporters of this type of rice.[6]

Production and cultivation

In India

The areas of basmati rice production in India are in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. India's total basmati production for the July 2011–June 2012 crop year was 5 million tonnes.[7] In India, Haryana is the major basmati rice cultivating state, producing more than 60 percent of the total basmati rice produced in India.

In Pakistan

In Pakistan, 95 percent of the basmati rice cultivation takes place in the Punjab province, where total production was 2.47 million tonnes in 2010.[8][9]

Aroma and flavour

Basmati rice has a typical pandan-like (Pandanus amaryllifolius leaf) flavour caused by the aroma compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline.[10] Basmati grains contain about 0.09 ppm of this aromatic chemical compound naturally, a level that is about 12 times more than non-basmati rice varieties, giving basmati its distinctive spicy fragrance and flavour.[1] This natural aroma is also found in cheese, fruits and other cereals. It is a flavoring agent approved in the United States and Europe, and is used in bakery products for aroma.[11]

Varieties and hybrids

There are several varieties of basmati rice. Traditional Indian types include basmati 370, basmati 385, and basmati Ranbirsinghpura (R.S.Pura)1121 Extra Long Grain Rice. Pakistani varieties of basmati rice are PK 385, Super Kernel Basmati Rice and D-98.

Scientists at Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi, used conventional plant breeding to produce a hybrid semi-dwarf plant which had most of the good features of traditional basmati (grain elongation, fragrance, alkali content). This hybrid was called Pusa Basmati-1 (PB1; also called "Todal", because the flower has awns); crop yield is up to twice as high as traditional varieties. Fragrant rices that are derived from basmati stock but are not true basmati varieties include PB2 (also called sugandh-2), PB3, and RS-10.

Approved varieties

Indian varieties

Dehradun, P3 Punjab, type III Uttar Pradesh, hbc -19 Safidon, 386 Haryana, Kasturi (Baran, Rajasthan), Basmati 198, Basmati 217, Basmati 370, Bihar, Kasturi, Mahi Suganda, Pusa (duplicate basmati), Pusa 1121.

Pakistani varieties

Basmati 370 (Pakki Basmati), Super Basmati (Kachi Basmati), Basmati Pak (Kernal), 386 or 1121 basmati rice,[12] Basmati 385, Basmati 515, Basmati 2000 and Basmati 198.[13]

Related varieties

In the United States, a variety of rice based on Basmati called Texmati is grown.[14]

In Kenya, a rice variety called Pishori or Pisori is grown in the Mwea region.[15]


Difficulty in differentiating genuine basmati from other types of rice and the significant price difference between them has led fraudulent traders to adulterate basmati rice with crossbred basmati varieties and long-grain non-basmati varieties. In Britain, the Food Standards Agency found in 2005 that about half of all basmati rice sold was adulterated with other strains of long-grain rice, prompting rice importers to sign up to a code of practice.[16] A 2010 U.K. test on rice supplied by wholesalers found 4 out of 15 samples had cheaper rice mixed with basmati, and one had no basmati at all.[17]

A PCR-based assay similar to DNA fingerprinting in humans allows adulterated and non-basmati strains to be detected, with a detection limit from 1% adulteration upwards with an error rate of ±1.5%.[18] Exporters of basmati rice use "purity certificates" based on DNA tests for their basmati rice consignments.[19] Based on this protocol, which was developed at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, the Indian company Labindia has released kits to detect basmati adulteration.[20]

Patent battle

In September 1997, a Texas company, RiceTec, was granted U.S. Patent No. 5,663,484 on "basmati rice lines and grains". The patent secures lines of basmati and basmati-like rice and ways of analyzing that rice. RiceTec, owned by Prince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein, faced international outrage over allegations of biopiracy. It had also caused a brief diplomatic crisis between India and the United States, with India threatening to take the matter to the WTO as a violation of TRIPS. Both voluntarily and due to review decisions by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, RiceTec lost or withdrew most of the claims of the patent, including, most importantly, the right to call their rice lines "basmati".[21] A more limited varietal patent was granted to RiceTec in 2001 on claims dealing with three strains of the rice developed by the company.[22]

Glycemic index

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, basmati rice has a "medium" glycemic index (between 56 and 69) opposed to regular white rice with a glycemic index of 89, thus making it more suitable for diabetics as compared to certain other grains and products made from white flour.[23]

See also


  1. 1 2 Big money in "speciality rices" Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations (2002)
  2. Rice Sales From India to Reach Record as Iran Boosts Reserve Bloomberg (February 13, 2014)
  3. Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. basmati.
  4. VP Singh (2000). Aromatic Rices. International Rice Research Institute. pp. 135–36. ISBN 978-81-204-1420-4.
  5. Daniel F. Robinson (2010). Confronting Biopiracy: Challenges, Cases and International Debates. Earthscan. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-84977-471-0.
  6. "Rice Sales From India to Reach Record as Iran Boosts Reserve". Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  7. "India's to export record basmati rice in 2012/13 | Reuters". July 6, 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-11.
  8. Rice export: ‘Pakistan has potential of $4b but barely touches $1b’. The Express Tribune. February 8, 2012.
  9. Global market: Pakistani basmati may slip down the pecking order. The Express Tribune. July 19, 2012.
  10. S. Wongpornchai; T. Sriseadka; S. Choonvisase (2003). "Identification and quantitation of the rice aroma compound, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, in bread flowers (Vallaris glabra Ktze)". J. Agric. Food. Chem. 51 (2): 457–462. doi:10.1021/jf025856x. PMID 12517110.
  11. Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, Sixth Edition, George A. Burdock (2009), CRC Press, ISBN 978-1420090772, p. 36
  13. "Survey on Basmati Rice" (PDF). March 2004. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 30, 2014. Retrieved 2013-09-11.
  14. Fiaz,, N; Khalid, F; Sarwar, MA (2013). "Whiff of Pearls". Rice Plus Magazine,
  15. Sanginga, P. C. (2009). Innovation Africa: Enriching Farmers' Livelihoods. London: Earthscan. pp. 301–302. ISBN 978-1-84407-671-0.
  16. British Retail Consortium (July 2005). Code of practice on Basmati rice.
  17. Rice, Tim (2010-01-29). "Probe finds fake basmati". This is Leicestershire. Retrieved 2013-09-11.
  18. Basmati rice collaborative trial - FA0110.
  19. Archak, Sunil et al. (2007). "High-throughput multiplex microsatellite marker assay for detection and quantification of adulteration in Basmati rice (Oryza sativa)" and Lakshminarayana, V. et al. (2007). "Capillary Electrophoresis Is Essential for Microsatellite Marker Based Detection and Quantification of Adulteration of Basmati Rice ( Oryza sativa)".
  20. Basmati Testing - Basmati Verifiler Kit. Labindia.
  21. "Bid for patent for basmati rice hits a hurdle", The Hindu, November 5, 2006
  22. "India-U.S. Fight on Basmati Rice Is Mostly Settled", The New York Times
  23. "Canadian Diabetes Associate - The Glycemic Index" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-11.

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