The different types of rice
You can find so many types of rice on the shelves in Australia, which is fantastic because we can easily make dishes from cuisines around the world. But it can be confusing, what's the difference between long-grain and short-grain rice? What's the difference between white rice and brown rice? And what makes creamy risotto rice different to fluffy biryani rice? Find out about the different types of rice and where they work best!
What is the difference between white and brown rice?
White and brown rice aren't specific types of rice, it refers to how processed it is. That's why you can find long-grain, medium grain and short grain white and brown rice.
White rice has had its husk, bran and germ removed and the grains look shiny, smooth and white. Brown rice is less processed than white rice and still has the bran attached, giving the rice its brown colour. Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice and has a chewier texture and nutty flavour. The bran makes it a good source of fibre and vitamin B.
Jasmine rice can be found as white or brown rice. Jasmine rice is usually served with Chinese and Southeast Asian dishes, such as stir-fries, curries and in fried rice. It's a highly perfumed long grain rice that's fluffy and not overly starchy.
- Jasmine rice is tender but retains a bite. Cooked grains remain separate but cling together.
- Jasmine rice takes less time to cook than most other long grain varieties.
- To cook on the stove: first rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Use a 1:1½ rice to water ratio and cook for about 15 minutes with the lid on.
Medium grain rice
Medium grain rice is also sold white or brown. Brown rice in supermarkets usually a variety of medium-grain rice. White medium grain rice is rounder, stickier and chewier than long grain rice. In a pinch, it can be used for risotto, paella and even sushi rice.
- Medium grain rice is soft and tender and ideal for soaking up flavours.
- To cook on the stove: first rinse until the water runs clear. Use a 1:1½ rice to water ratio and cook for about 15 minutes with the lid on.
Basmati is a long grain rice with a distinctive smoky flavour. It is usually grown in India and imported to Australia. The grains are exceptionally long and thin.
- Basmati rice grains stay separate, fluffy and relatively dry when cooked
- It is favoured for cooking biryani and pilaf, and for eating with Indian curry dishes
- Basmati is usually sold as white rice, but brown basmati is also available. Brown basmati takes a little longer to cook but it is more flavourful
- To cook on the stove: Use ratio of 1:1 for water to rice, basmati cooks faster than most other long grain varieties
As the name suggests, it is used specifically to make risotto. It is a medium grain rice with a characteristic white dot in the centre. Its particular starchy yet firm qualities make it ideal for risotto.
- Several varieties are available in Australia, including Arborio which is now grown locally. Imported varieties include Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Baldo and Padano.
- Never rinse risotto rice. Washing removes starch, and starch is essential for good risotto. The more starch, the creamier your finished risotto will be.
- To cook: Traditional stirred risotto is stirred continuously while cooking, and can take between 15-30 minutes to cook. Check the packet instructions.
Koshihikari (Koshi rice)
A short grain rice originally grown only in Japan and used in traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi dishes.
- This short grain rice retains moisture longer than other short grain rice varieties, making it easy to shape and stick together.
- It has a soft, springy, slightly sticky texture and sweet flavour best for sushi.
- To cook on the stove: Rinse koshihikari rice with cold water two to five times until water runs clear. Use 1:1½ rice to water ratio and cook for about 15 minutes.
Spanish rice, Calaspara or La Bomba
A medium to short grain rice specifically for Spanish rice dish Paella.
- Spanish rice is never rinsed, as the starch is necessary in the traditional recipe.
- Usually cooked as part of a recipe rather than on its own, Spanish rice cooks in between 15-40 minutes depending on the recipe and variety.
Red rice is usually sold unhulled or partially hulled like brown rice, but it has a red colour due to compounds called anthocyanins.
- It has a nutty, earthy flavour and soft texture.
- The ratio of water to rice varies depending on the variety, check the packet instructions to cook.
Wild rice is not actually rice, it is a seed of a semi-aquatic grass. It appears and cooks very similarly to rice. Also known as Canada rice and Indian rice, it looks like a dark, long grain rice.
- It has a nutty flavour, chewy texture and bite.
- To cook on the stove: Rinse grains before cooking and use a 1:4 rice to water ratio, it takes 40-60 minutes to cook. Wild rice is cooked when grains split open or blossom exposing the tender centre.
Parboiled rice is also known as converted rice. The rice is soaked, steamed and dried before it is milled and the hull removed, which means it retains more nutrients.
- Parboiled rice is a better source of fibre, calcium, potassium and vitamin B-6 than regular white rice.
- To cook on the stove: It doesn’t need to be rinsed. Use 1:2 rice to water ratio. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to cook, similar to white rice and much shorter than traditional brown rice. Pre-soaking parboiled rice for at least one hour will shorten cooking time, but is not essential.
Find more great rice recipes below, or click here for a collection of 30 Easy Rice Recipes
to make for dinner.
This authentic risotto uses Arborio rice cooked in the traditional way. Continuous stirring releases the starches from the rice, giving the risotto that luscious creamy texture with al dente bite that is so loved around the world.
This delicious one-pan rice dish is made with basmati rice, so each grain of rice is coated in beautiful spices and it has a wonderful fluffy texture. A stunning dish for the family or for a dinner party.
A fragrant and relatively quick cooking long grain rice such as jasmine rice works perfectly in this easy, flavour packed rice dish.