Saturday, September 6, 2014

Grain of the Week - 36 - Kalijira Rice

There are so many rice varieties that it is almost impossible to keep track of them. Now that I voluntarily go looking for new varieties it is pretty obvious that I have hardly scratched the surface. I am not sure why I did not get to Kalijira rice sooner. Necessity is the mother of invention! That is how I chanced upon this rice. When I ran out of the Seeraga Samba rice that I had carried from back home I went looking for it in the Indian store, did not find seeraga samba but found Kalijira instead. It looked very similar to the Seeraga Samba and the names seems to imply they could be the same rice.

Seergam means cumin in Tamil and Jira in Hindi means Cumin. But they are two different rice varieties. Kalijira is grown in Bangladesh and from my reading Kali means black, while the rice is white apparently the unhulled rice is black and looks like cumin and hence the name. It is also called "Prince Of Rice" because of its aroma, taste and shape it acquires when cooked. It is a special occasion rice.Source.

While today, Basmati rice is the default rice for cooking Biryani, back home I have never tasted Biryani with Basmati - these days though everybody uses it I guess because it is more commonly and cheaply available. Biryani was always made with Seeraga Samba much more flavorful and tastier than the bland Basmati.

In the US, Basmati is ubiquitous and two decades ago when I first got here, forget about Kalijira there was no other rice available but Basmati. Period. For a period Basmati is all I cooked and while in India it was one of the costliest rice here in the US it was the cheapest. Even now.

Biryani made with Basmati is drier thereby requiring more fat to make it moist. Kalijira on the other hand elevates the taste of the Biryani and it is much more moist.

I always vow not to buy Basmati anymore and end up buying it anyway because it is everywhere. I bought a packet of Kalijira just recently and renewed the vow again.

Look at this link for the Seeraga Samba Rice.

If you have cooked with both Kalijira or Seeraga Samba and Basmati which do you like better?

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  1. I used to get the Kalijeera rice when the girls were first introduced to the indian rice-dal khichdi diet. It was closest to the Gobindobhog rice that we get in Bengal, only Kalijeera is not fragrant.
    Now I mostly use sona masoori and brown rice for everyday use. The Lal Qila long grained basmati is good for biryani though

    1. We use Sona masoori and these days a lot of millet. I do not like Basmati all that much but I quite like the Kalijira rice and the one we have is far more fragrant than the Basmati rice. I have not come across Lal Qila, will look for it.

  2. Oh, and I just saw the pictures of a farm in your summer posts. Did you move to one or is it a co-op ? If you indeed own one, please invite us next summer :-D

    1. We have not moved there yet. You are welcome any time. By next summer we might have the basic amenities to host people :)


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