“Basmati” is long grain aromatic rice grown for many centuries in the specific geographical area, at the Himalayan foot hills of Indian sub-continent.This extra- long slender grain elongates upon cooking and has a soft and fluffy texture, delicious taste, superior aroma and distinct flavor.
The word 'Basmati' has been derived from two Sanskrit roots – ‘Vas’ meaning aroma and ‘Mayup’ meaning ingrained or inborn or present from the beginning. Upon combining, ‘Mayup’ changed to ‘Mati’ making it Vasmati- now pronounced as Basmati.
Dr. V. P. Singh of IARI writes in his book titled "Aromatic Rices" that though as many as 86 varieties have been classified as basmati, only 18 of them qualify under the strict basmati standards. Of these 18, only 9 varieties are found in India.
Characteristics of Basmati
Length- grain should be long (6.61 - 7.5 mm) or very long (more than 7.50 mm).
Shape or length-to-width ratio- needs to be over 3.0 in order to qualify as basmati.
Color- of basmati is translucent, creamy white.
Texture- upon cooking, the texture should be firm and tender without splitting, and it should be non-sticky. Also, rice elongates almost twice upon cooking but does not fatten much.
Aroma- most important characteristic of Basmati is its aroma. Incidentally, the aroma in Basmati arises from a cocktail of 100 compounds — hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes and esters.