More than 40 000 types of rice are grown around the world. We sample some commonly available varieties in SA.
A short-grained rice that is prized for its high starch content, it turns creamy when cooked. Arborio is named after the town in north-west Italy where the rice is said to have originated, and is the base for traditional risotto (‘riso’ is the Italian word for rice).
BEST FOR: Giving risotto its characteristic texture; can also be used for sushi
TRY IT: Bacon and apple risotto
Unlike regular white rice, brown rice has not had the bran removed from the grain. It takes longer to cook, but retains the vitamins, minerals and fibre contained in the bran. The high fibre can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
BEST FOR: Salads and hearty, one-bowl meals (add lentils, spring onions and soy sauce for a quick, healthy lunch)
TRY IT: Stuffed butternuts
During processing, the husk, bran and part of the germ of this kitchen staple are removed, making it tender and quick to cook, but not the most nutritious option.
BEST FOR: Quick family meals
TRY IT: Rice pudding
Not strictly a rice at all, this is actually the seed of an aquatic grass. It originally grew wild (hence the name) in parts of North America and China, but is now cultivated. Often sold mixed with other rice grains.
BEST FOR: Adding colour and texture to dishes
Long-grain rice with a subtle floral aroma, originating in South East Asia. Not quite as long as basmati, jasmine rice has a slightly sticky texture when cooked. Steaming enhances this property.
BEST FOR: Serving with Thai and Chinese dishes, or on its own as fried rice
This is the king of the long-grain rice. Basmati has a firm, dense texture and nutty flavour. Its long structure helps the grains remain distinct during cooking, producing fluffy rice. It originates in the foothills of the Himalayas in Pakistan and India, and takes its name from the Hindi word for ‘fragrant’.
BEST FOR Classic breyani and as an accompaniment to curries.