Going the red rice way!

Red is the colour of the season. Red baubles on a Christmas tree, a red hat for your festivities, and even the colour of the wine you’d opt to go with all the merry celebrations.

Published: 16th December 2020 05:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th December 2020 05:48 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Red is the colour of the season. Red baubles on a Christmas tree, a red hat for your festivities, and even the colour of the wine you’d opt to go with all the merry celebrations. While this colour makes a mark amid the green and white at the end of the year, our neighbouring state Kerala, has had a liking for red for decades. No, we are not talking about their political leanings, but their love for red rice.

A full Kerala meal, popularly called sadhya, is incomplete without a heap of red rice adorning the centre space of the banana leaf, while the kootu, curries and pachadis form the border. Red rice, called matta rice, is a staple in every Malayali household. Dietician Preethi Rahul walks us through the different variants of this variety, how they affect the body, and shares a simple recipe.

Red rice vs white rice
The presence of anthocyanin in this type of rice gives it a red colour. It is present in the bran layer of the rice. Anthocyanins are a kind of chemicals that have antioxidant properties, which in turn carries a lot of health benefits.

Nutritional value
Calories in any kind of rice is similar — 350kcal in 100 g. In terms of nutritional profile, red rice is very similar to brown rice. It has 6.6g of protein (per 100 g) and 6.7g of fibre (per 100 g). The fibre content in this variety of rice is the highest as compared to others. Hence, it is good for diabetic patients. This variant has a moderate GI (glycemic index) of 50-70 units. It is often recommended for people with diabetes.

Types of red rice
In a paper titled ‘Nutritional and functional properties of coloured rice varieties of South India: a review by TS Rathna Priya and her team’, which was published in 2019 in the Journal of Ethnic Foods, she notes that there are several varieties of red rice. We are all aware of rosamatta (matta) variety from Kerala. But, in Kerala itself, there are other varieties like kattamodan, kairali, bhadra, rakthashali, jyothy, etc. Even in Tamil Nadu, we have our native variants like red kavuni, kaivara samba, mappillai samba, kuruvikar and poongar. There is also another belt in India — the Himalayan region — where red rice is commonly grown, and it is called Himalayan red rice.

Each rice has its own benefits. Red kavuni has anti-microbial properties; poongar is usually consumed by women after they attain puberty and is believed to avert ailments associated with reproduction; mapillai samba helps reduce cholesterol; kattuyanam lowers glucose; garudan samba has anti-arthritic properties. In Kerala, different types of red rice are used in Ayurvedic treatments too, notes the paper. Rakthashali helps in reducing fever and ulcer, and improve eyesight; nivar 
rice is used to treat haemorrhoids.

Which red rice to choose
The most commonly available variant is the rosamatta rice. Having said that, it is hard to say that one must continue only one variant as each one has its own benefit. The taste of all the red rice varieties differ, too, but they are all parboiled and seem a little dry. The pigment of the rice is based on the level of anthocyanin present. Some people may be averse to the rice just by looking at it. But, it has immense benefits. If you plan to make the switch, opt for matta rice. Once you get used to its chewy taste, you can try the others. It is chewy because it retains the bran and endosperm. This is why it takes a longer time to cook as well. This rice must not be cooked till it becomes soft; if you do so, you will lose all the nutrients in it.

Other nutrients
Red rice has some amount of calcium, iron, higher on potassium content, and there is some amount of selenium, too. These are nutrients that are additionally present, considering the presence of bran and endosperm intact. But, rice isn’t one of the sources to get these nutrients from.

Safe choice
Red rice is considered to be safe for people with allergies because anthocyanin tends to have a protective effect on allergic manifestation in certain cases.

Red rice khichdi
    Red rice: 2 cups
    Dal (Moong or Toor):1 cup
    Vegetables: Carrot, beans, cauliflower, onion and tomato

Soak rice and dal for a while in water. Heat oil in a cooker. Saute onion and tomato along with any spice you’d like to add. Add vegetables. Now, mix in the rice and dal. Give it stir. Add salt and close the cooker. Pressure-cook for three whistles. Typically, khichdi is gooey and mushy, but since you are using red rice, it will give a pulao feel.


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