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Rice is a good source of protein and a staple food in many parts of the world. Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice).

As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize. There are more than 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice (the grass species Oryza sativa) said to exist. But the exact figure is uncertain. Over 90,000 samples of cultivated rice and wild species are stored at the International Rice Gene Bank and these are used by researchers all over the world.

The rice varieties can be divided into 2 basic groups, Long Grain; and All Purpose & Speciality.

  • All-purpose long grain rices can be used for all styles of cooking.
  • Long grain rice is a slim grain which is 4-5 times as long as it is wide. It undergoes different milling techniques to give different types of rice.


  • One of the most popular types of rice because it has a subtle flavour which perfectly complements both rich and delicate sauces. Milled to remove the husk and bran layer, the grain is slim and 4-5 times


  • When raw the rice has a golden colour, but turns white upon cooking. Can be used in the same dishes as Regular Long grain, but is particularly good for rice salads.


  • The first class of rice which is classed as speciality is aromatic rice. These contain a natural ingredient, 2-acetyl 1-pyroline, which is responsible for their fragrant taste and aroma. The fragrance quality of aromatic rice can differ from one year's harvest to the next, like wine. The finest aromatic rices are aged to bring out a stronger aroma.


  • A very long, slender grained aromatic rice and described as the 'Prince of Rice'. It has a fragrant flavour and aroma. The grains are separate and fluffy when cooked. Easy cook basmati and brown rice basmati are also available. Brown basmati rice has a higher fibre content and an even stronger aroma than basmati white.


  • Another aromatic rice, although its flavour is slightly less pronounced than basmati. The length and slenderness of the grains suggest that they should remain separate on cooking but it differs from other long grain rices in that it has a soft and slightly sticky texture when cooked. Good with Chinese and South East Asian food.