Jasmine Rice

tahdig rice dish
A tahdig rice dish with added cherries. (Stephen Howard/Wikimedia Commons/CC ASA 2.0)

Do you love rice but get bored using the same white or brown varieties in every dish? If so, it's time you discovered the beauty of Jasmine rice. Jasmine is a long grain variety of rice with a moist, soft texture and slightly sweet nutty flavor and aroma. It pairs beautifully with the spices used in many Middle Eastern dishes and is the rice most commonly found in Persian (Iranian) cuisine. It is, in fact, sometimes called fragrant rice but, the fresher it is, the more aroma it will have. It gets the name jasmine, however, not from its smell but from its color which resembles a jasmine flower. You may notice that it is very similar to basmati, yet jasmine rice does not have as strong a flavor as the basmati does. It's used often when you want to cook up a side dish that livens up the meal with subtle, aromatic appeal.

Jasmine rice is grown mostly in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam but is popular all throughout the Asian continent including India and all the regions of the Middle East.

How to Cook Jasmine Rice

Cooking jasmine rice is just as easy as cooking any other variety. Although, for best results, jasmine should ideally be steamed rather than boiled. However, you can certainly boil your jasmine rice with success. If you are boiling it, though, the trick is to boil the rice and water together, using slightly more water than rice.

With either method, jasmine rice should be rinsed, or can even be pre-soaked, before preparation. Soaking the rice beforehand will decrease the cooking time from approximately twenty minutes to about ten minutes. Once it's cooked you will notice that the rice does not stick together the way white or brown rice does, and will be light, fluffy and aromatic.

Steamed jasmine is great for stir fries or as a side dish for grilled, fried or slow cooked food like roasts and stews. You might find it a bit too soggy for fried rice if it's freshly cooked, though, so you will do better by cooking it the day before and refrigerating it. If you are planning on using it in soups, try cooking it a bit dryer by using less water in the pot.

How and Where to Buy Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice can be found at most local supermarkets, Middle Eastern grocers, or even online. Almost any food seller that carries rice varieties should carry jasmine rice as well.

Fell free to substitute jasmine rice in any dish where you would normally use white or brown rice. It is great on its own, as a side dish with a little butter, or topped with meat, especially lamb. So next time you are looking to make any rice dish and would like to experiment with something having a different texture and flavor, you cannot go wrong with jasmine rice!