When it comes to rice, basmati is a favorite among many. Its distinct aroma and fluffy texture have made it an indispensable staple in many households.
But if you're looking to switch things up in the kitchen, plenty of delicious basmati rice alternatives are available.
In this article, we'll look at five alternatives that can be added to your meal-planning arsenal.
Introduction to Basmati Rice and Its Global Popularity
Basmati rice is an aromatic long-grain variety that originated in India's subcontinent.
Known for its delicate aroma and light, fluffy texture when cooked, basmati has become a beloved choice in cuisines around the world, mainly Indian, Middle Eastern, and South Asian ones.
Basmati rice is a beloved ingredient in many recipes, but having some alternatives on hand is always beneficial when you want to switch things up in the kitchen.
Here are five great alternatives to basmati rice you can try out.
Why Consider Alternatives to Basmati Rice?
Basmati rice is delicious, but adding variety to your diet is always beneficial. Switching up grains provides different nutrients and flavors that may benefit your health and taste buds.
Furthermore, some people may have dietary restrictions which prevent them from eating basmati rice; thus making alternatives an excellent option.
Quinoa: A Protein-Packed Grain Alternative
Quinoa has become a go-to protein source that's gluten-free and packed with essential amino acids - making it the complete source of complete proteins.
In addition, it has a slightly nutty flavor and fluffy texture similar to basmati rice, making it an excellent gluten-free choice.
To cook quinoa, rinse it thoroughly and combine it with water or broth in a pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until water has been absorbed—fluff with a fork before serving.
Quinoa is an excellent substitute for basmati rice in stir-fries, salads, and grain bowls.
In addition, it goes well with various cuisines like Mexican, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern fare.
Cauliflower Rice - A Low-Carb, Low-Calorie Option
Cauliflower rice has become increasingly popular over the past few years as a low-carb and calorie alternative to rice.
Pulsed cauliflower florets make this delicious treat in a food processor until they resemble rice grains. Cauliflower rice has a mild flavor and texture similar to couscous.
To cook cauliflower rice, heat a small amount of oil or butter in a pan over medium-high heat and add the cauliflower rice. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender; steam or microwave it.
Cauliflower rice is an adaptable alternative to basmati rice that can be used in various recipes such as fried rice, stir-fries, and even pizza crust.
It's ideal for those looking to reduce their carbohydrate intake or incorporate more veggies into their diet.
Wild Rice - A Nuttier and More Nutrient-Rich Alternative
Wild rice is not rice but rather a seed from aquatic grass. Its nutty taste and chewy texture make it an alternative to basmati rice.
Furthermore, wild rice boasts high levels of protein and fiber, making it filling and nutritious!
To cook wild rice, rinse it thoroughly and combine it with water or broth in a pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45-60 minutes, until all grains have opened up and become tender.
Wild rice is an ideal substitute for basmati rice in recipes such as pilafs, soups, and casseroles. It pairs perfectly with earthy flavors like mushrooms and herbs and rich sauces like gravy or tomato sauce.
Brown Rice - A Healthier and Fiber-Rich Alternative
Brown rice is a whole grain without bran or germ removed, making it higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white rice.
Brown rice also has a slightly nutty flavor and a lovely chewy texture - perfect for substituting basmati rice!
To cook brown rice, rinse it thoroughly and combine it with water or broth in a pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Brown rice is an adaptable alternative to basmati rice that can be used in many recipes, such as stir-fries, salads, and grain bowls. It pairs well with cuisines like Asian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern fare.
Forbidden Black Rice - A Nutrient-Dense and Visually Appealing Option
Forbidden black rice (also known as "emperor's rice") is an heirloom variety of rice with a nutty flavor and chewy texture that was once only for Chinese royalty.
Today it boasts high antioxidant levels and is an excellent source of iron and fiber. Forbidden black rice also makes a great snack!
To cook forbidden black rice, rinse it thoroughly and combine it with water or broth in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Forbidden black rice is an ideal substitute for basmati rice in recipes such as sushi, salads, and desserts.
Its eye-catching nature adds an eye-catching splash of color to any dish.
Cooking and Serving These Rice Alternatives
Each of these alternatives requires slightly different cooking methods, but they can all be used in various recipes.
Experiment with different combinations and techniques to find the best for your tastes and cooking style.
Pair these rice alternatives with dishes that enhance their flavors and textures when serving them.
For instance, quinoa pairs flawlessly with roasted vegetables and tahini sauce, while cauliflower rice works excellently in stir-fries that feature plenty of fresh herbs and spices.
Pairing These Alternatives with Different Cuisines
One of the great things about these rice alternatives is their versatility; quinoa can be used in Mexican dishes like tacos or burrito bowls, wild rice can be added to soups and stews, brown rice goes great with Asian stir-fries and black rice can be perfect for sushi or Asian-inspired salads.
Experiment with different cuisines and flavor profiles to determine what works best for each rice alternative.
Conclusion and Final Recommendations
Basmati rice is a beloved ingredient in many recipes, but plenty of delicious alternatives exist.
Quinoa, cauliflower rice, wild rice, brown rice, and forbidden black rice all provide delicious options that can add variety and nutrients to your diet.
Experiment with different methods and pairings to find what works best for you when cooking and serving these rice alternatives.
Experiment with different cuisines and flavor profiles to find your favorites.
Enjoy these tasty basmati rice alternatives and the varied flavors and textures they add to your dishes.