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Aromatic rice and its characteristic features

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Every state in the country has its own quality/specialty rice varieties. Aromatic or scented rice have long been highly regarded in Indian society not only because of their excellent quality but also because they had been considered auspicious. The aromatic rice varieties in the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Bihar and North East region are very short, fine grained and highly scented. Each one is highly priced in the locality where they are grown. These varieties are characterised by weak stem, very long growth duration, low grain weight and poor yield. Farmers mainly grow these varieties for their own consumption and ceremonial purposes and they do not have well developed market.

There is another category of aromatic rice varieties, which is long grained with a unique combination of grain, cooking and eating quality. Quality traits of these rice varieties are best expressed when grown in northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. India and Pakistan are the traditional producers and exporters of Basmati rice and in the world market it fetches three times high price than high quality non Basmati type rice. Due to polygenic nature of inheritance of the several quality characters, it has been difficult to increase the yield potential of Basmati rice varieties while retaining the same quality characteristics.
The word “Basmati” has been designed from two Sanskrit roots: vas (meaning aroma) and mayup (meaning ingrained or present from the beginning).Thus the word Basmati implies “ingrained aroma”. So it is the aroma that gives Basmati its novel characteristics unmatched by any other rice grain anywhere else in the world. Many scented varieties of rice have been cultivated in the Indian sub-continent from time immemorial but Basmati distinguishes itself from all other aromatic rice due to its unique aromatic characteristics coupled with silky texture of its long grain. There is general notion that any aromatic rice is Basmati, however this is not the case. No single criterion can distinguish Basmati rice from other rices. 
A harmonious combinations of minimum kernel dimensions, intensity of aroma, texture  of cooked rice high volume expansion during cooking made up by linear kernel elongation with minimum breadth wises swelling, fluffiness, palatability, easy digestibility and longer self life quality makes  a rice to be Basmati in consumers and traders view. The special characteristics of Basmati rice are (a) a ‘greasy’ look without any abdominal white, (b) an entire rice grain, (c) fully developed and uniform kernel, (d) neither too soft nor too hard when crushed under the teeth, (e) nearly double elongation after cooking, (f) absence of bursting or stickiness and (g) sweetness and special aroma of the cooked rice.
Mohammad Shamim, K.K. Singh, B.Gangwar, Sunil Kumar and Vinay Prasad Mandal
Dr. Mohammad Shamim, Project Directorate for Farming Systems Research, Modipuram-250110

File Courtesy: 
Dr. Mohammad Shamim, Project Directorate for Farming Systems Research, Modipuram-250110
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