Basmati is a variety of long grain rice,
famous for its fragrance and delicate flavour. Its name
means "Queen of Fragrance" in Hindi.
Basmati rice has been cultivated
in India and Pakistan for hundreds of years, and some
varieties are now grown in the United States. The Himalayan
foothills are said to produce the best basmati and Dehra
Dun is the most prized of these varieties. Patma is
a basmati rice grown in West Bengal. The best types
of basmati rice are aged for several years before they
are milled and sold.
The grains of basmati rice
are much longer than they are wide, and they grow even
longer as they cook. They stay firm and separate, not
sticky, after cooking. Basmati rice is available both
as a white rice and a brown rice. Both of these cook
in about 20 minutes. Due to the high amount of starch
clinging to the rice grains, many cooks wash this rice
before cooking it. Soaking it for half an hour to two
hours before cooking makes the grains less likely to
break in cooking.