It’s hard to imagine a more global cuisine staple than rice, a sustaining food for nearly 2/3 of the world’s population. Rice cultivation originated in China more than 5,000 years ago. From Asia rice spread to ancient Greece and on to the Nile Delta, eventually reaching the New World in the 17th century.
Two species account for most of the rice produced and consumed in the world.
The Indica rice variety is the most widespread and represents over 80% of world production. Indica is 6 mm or more in length, and may surpass 7 mm. Its long narrow grains detach well in cooking due to their low starch content. There are two indica rice families which include: long grain grice and naturally aromatic rice. Among the naturally aromatic rices are basmati, originally from India or Pakistan; and Thai jasmine rice, originally from Thailand. Unscented long grain rice is the variety most frequently used for "non-stick" rice.
This is the second most consumed rice in the world, representing 20% of world production. It is mainly (95%) grown in Europe, Australia and California. Japonica rice grains vary in shape: they may be short, medium-long, or long, and oval or round. They absorb a lot of water in cooking and swell up, releasing their starch which makes them stickier. This makes them excellent for risottos and sushi.
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