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Basmati rice is a distinctly aromatic long-grain rice and a staple in Indian cuisine. Traditionally, South Asians would serve basmati rice with curries or use it as an ingredient in making biryani, a famous local rice dish with vegetables, meat, or seafood. Another quality that makes basmati distinct is how each long-grain remains separate when cooked for a fluffy final product. The US has to import this distinct rice variety, which may require a substitute should this fragrant long-grain rice be unavailable in your area.
Local hybrid varieties like Louisiana pecan rice and Texas RiceTec brands may be the best alternatives for basmati rice. Regular American long-grain rice varieties and other fragrant rice varieties like jasmine rice stand in for basmati just as well. While these varieties have unique fragrances of their own, they may offer similar flavor and texture that closely resemble that of basmati rice. In this article, we discuss how well each rice variety stands in for basmati rice in terms of fragrance, texture, health benefits, and overall experience.
Healthy Substitutes for Basmati Rice
“Basmati” literally means “fragrance” in Hindi. They can come in brown or white varieties, the latter being more processed than the former. Fragrance, flavor, and texture are the factors that make basmati rice distinct. When looking for a substitute, you would want to replicate the scent and flavor that basmati rice offers. It may also be wise to look for alternatives that maintain the health benefits that come with basmati rice.
Basmati rice has a much lower glycemic index (GI) than most rice varieties. A GI value measures a specific food’s ability to increase blood sugar levels. Since basmati rice has a low GI value, it may help diabetic people by being a source of fiber and necessary carbohydrates.
Here are the best rice varieties that can stand in for basmati rice.
Louisiana Pecan Rice
This variety is bred in the state as long-grain aromatic rice. Louisiana pecan rice is hybrid basmati rice, which explains how it has both long-grain and fragrant qualities of basmati. It retains a delicate, floral scent after cooking, which ends up fluffy just like regular basmati.
As a basmati hybrid, Louisiana pecan rice may offer nearly the same dietary fibers that you would get from basmati rice. One 100g serving offers about 1g of fiber, which you can pair with beans to help reach the suggested 25g daily fiber intake.
RiceTec Hybrid Rice
The private American company RiceTec Inc. developed and patented a few basmati rice hybrids for the American market. This company is based in Texas and has developed different basmati rice strains that they sell through brands they call Jasmati rice, Kasmati rice, and Texmati rice, as a signifier that they are similar to Indian-style basmati rice.
These hybrid rice brands are long-grain rice varieties that share similar qualities of basmati rice. RiceTec specifically engineered Jasmati rice to contain jasmine rice’s aroma and basmati rice’s size and texture when cooked. Meanwhile, Kasmati and Texmati rice can almost match their parent basmati rice fragrant and chewy characteristics.
American Long-Grain Rice
Regular American long-grain white rice is a great substitute for basmati rice that works just as well when you serve it with Indian food. This variety only lacks a distinct aroma that basmati rice offers. Regardless of its missing scent, plain long-grain rice matches basmati in the way that they are both long-grain rice with similar textures.
When cooking long-grain rice, it ends up almost like basmati in terms of fluffiness. This variety goes well with curry because of its generally dry texture, being a non-sticky kind of rice. Apart from its lack of smell, regular long-grain white rice also lacks a distinct flavor, which should not be a problem if you are serving it with other food.
As a whole grain, American long-grain rice offers health benefits that may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It contains the necessary fibers and antioxidants that shorter-grained rice varieties may not be as rich in.
American long-grain rice also comes in a brown variety. Brown rice is less processed than its white counterpart, which may offer more nutrients. However, long-grain brown rice may become stickier when cooked a certain way, so it takes away from the fluffy texture that you might look for with basmati rice.
Jasmine rice is a fragrant alternative to basmati rice. Although slightly different in aroma, its delicate scent may give you that olfactory experience you would normally have with basmati rice. Jasmine rice’s delicate scent is much sweeter than basmati’s nutty aroma, with both varieties retaining their smell after cooking. Jasmine is also non-sticky rice that may stand in for basmati rice’s texture. With the same consistency, you can serve jasmine rice with the same dishes you would normally use basmati rice for.
Size is another difference between basmati rice and jasmine rice. Basmati is long-grain rice, while jasmine has a smaller rice grain size. Jasmine also does not grow as large basmati rice when cooked. On the health side, jasmine rice also has a fiber content that can almost match basmati rice. Dietary fiber is important for regulating bowels for better digestive health. Jasmine rice can come in white or brown varieties like basmati rice. The brown variety has a higher fiber content than white jasmine rice because it does not undergo as much processing.
It may be important to note that jasmine rice is another imported rice variety, particularly from Thailand. While it may serve as an ideal fragrant substitute, it may not be readily available in your local market.
Best Basmati Rice Substitutes
Basmati rice is a long-grain rice with a distinct aroma and flavor that people enjoy pairing with savory dishes. Substitutes for this aromatic variety include hybrid varieties from different states like Louisiana pecan rice and Jasmati, Kasmati, and Texmati rice brands from Texas. These are great substitutes for basmati rice because they are specifically bred to closely match the original parent rice variety.
Meanwhile, regular American long-grain rice is a similar rice variety that may offer a similar texture to basmati rice, although it lacks a distinct aroma. If you are after a fragrant rice variety, jasmine rice has a mild scent that may stand in for basmati rice.
Nothing quite captures the experience of having true basmati rice, but these varieties are the best substitutes when basmati rice is unavailable. They offer similar health benefits on top of almost matching basmati rice’s texture and aroma.