Many people use jasmine and basmati rice interchangeably and certainly there are many similarities between the two. They are both commonly used as a substitute for plain white rice and they are both used in a variety of Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian dishes. Also, they are both aromatic rice with a slight nutty flavor to them. But even with these similarities, there are several key differences between them.
Jasmine rice is typically grown in Thailand and Cambodia, with smaller amounts also grown in Laos and southern Vietnam. The vast majority of rice that is exported to North America and Europe comes from Thailand though. The Thai and Cambodian rice are very similar and both can be found in a white and brown variety. The name for Thai jasmine is hom mali, while the Cambodian rice has 3 major varieties including phka rumduol, phka romeat, and phka rumdeng. The jasmine rice grown in Loas and Vietnam is only grown in small amounts as they primarily focus on cultivating other types of rice.[i]
Basmati rice is typically produced in Pakistan and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar with over 60 percent of India’s total coming from Haryana. Approximately 65 percent of exported basmati comes from India and the rest from Pakistan. Like with jasmine rice, the types grown in each country differs. India grows varieties including Dehradun, P3 Punjab, type III Uttar Pradesh, hbc-19 Safidon, 386 Haryana, Kasturi (Baran, Rajasthan), Basmati 198, Basmati 217, Bihar, Kasturi, Mahi Suganda, Pusa and Pusa 1121. The varieties grown in Pakistan include Basmati 370 (Pakki Basmati), Super Basmati (Kachi Basmati), Basmati Pak (Kernal), 386 or 1121 basmati rice, Basmati 385, Basmati 2000 and Basmati 198.[ii]
- Nutritional Value
Both jasmine rice and basmati are going to be high-carb, low-fat sources of food, but there are some other differences in the nutritional content in each variety. A quarter cup serving (dry) of white jasmine rice is going to contain approximately 140 calories, whereas the same serving size of basmati will have about 170. Brown jasmine will have about 160 calories and brown basmati will have about 150. This makes white jasmine the lowest-calorie option and white basmati the highest. Additionally, in terms of their iron content, brown basmati will contain the highest amount at 4% of the recommended daily value; brown jasmine and white basmati provide 2% and white jasmine does not have any iron.[iii]
In regards to carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fasts, there are also differences. The quarter cup of white jasmine will have about 44 grams of carbs, less than 4 grams of protein and a half a gram of fat. White basmati will have the same protein and fat content, but slightly less carbohydrates with only 38. There is little fiber found in the white rice varieties. Brown jasmine will have approximately 35 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and 1 of fat. Brown basmati will have the same amount of fiber and protein as brown jasmine, but it will have 34 grams of carbohydrates and 1.5 grams of fat. Despite having more fat, the brown varieties tend to be considered healthier due to their fiber content.[iv]
The glycemic index of each rice is slightly different as well. The range for jasmine is typically between 68-80 (lower than 70 is considered to be good), while the glycemic index for basmati is typically lower, around 59.[v]
Both types of rice are versatile in their uses, but they do require a slightly different preparation technique. When making jasmine rice, you should first wash it so that you are removing dust and extra starch. Then it can be cooked by steaming it or by heating while it absorbs a measured amount of water. For this reason, it fares well in a rice cooker. With basmati, rather than rinsing it, the rice should be soaked for at least a half hour prior to cooking. This will allow the rice to begin the absorption process so that it cooks more evenly and doesn’t break up during cooking.[vi]
Jasmine rice is named for its color-it is white like the jasmine flower. It has long, translucent grains and it has a moist, soft texture when it is cooked. It also becomes quite sticky once it is prepared. Basmati is also a long-grained rice, which becomes even longer when it cooks. Rather than being sticky though, basmati rice grains will stay separate and have a springy texture.[vii]
The dishes that these types of rice are typically paired with are strongly indicative or the region in which they are grown. You will see basmati in many types of Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern dishes. Examples will include tikka masala and lamb korma. The dishes that would typically use jasmine rice are usually a style of Asian cuisine. Predictably, it is also the favorite type of rice to use in Thai food. It is also considered ideal for things such as stir-fries, as well as any grilled, fried or braised meats. Jasmine rice would not usually be used for fried rice as it is typically too soft and soggy.[viii]
While these are some of the examples of how both basmati and jasmine rice have been used traditionally, they are both very versatile and will adapt well to the flavor profile of many different styles of cuisine. Perhaps this is why both types of rice are very popular.