Basmati Rice vs. Long Grain Rice: What’s the Difference?

Finding the perfect rice can be confusing amidst labels like “long grain” and “basmati.” Often, these terms overlap, adding to the bewilderment.

As a seasoned basmati rice cook with 10,00 times cooking and tastings, I’ll explain the difference between basmati vs. long grain. Not only this, but I’ll also thoroughly help you to learn the best ways to cook basmati rice.

Let’s elevate your cooking skills together.

Welcome to Rice Nirvana!

Basmati Rice vs. Long Grain Rice – 2 Key Differences

Long-grain rice has various global varieties, and basmati rice is one of the most aromatic and fluffiest variety of long grain rice. Basmati rice has the highest levels of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, furaneol and γ-decalactone, the fargrance giving compounds and higher amylose content to make it fluffy.

So, recognizing basmati rice is more about aroma and texture than grain shape and size. In contrast, the rest of the long grain rice varieties lack this balance of texture and aroma.

Understanding the Long Grain Rice and Its Varieties

Long grain rice is a long and slender rice with a length ranging between 0.27 and 0.35 inches or 7-9 millimeters — 4 to 5 times its width. The grain has a cylindrical shape.

Long-grain rice is less sticky than other short-grain or medium-grain rice. Yet, the aroma and taste of long grain rice depend on the specific variety. Some types of long grain rice are more popular than others.

Various varieties of long-grain rice include:

  • Basmati rice, known for its nutty aroma, is popular in India and Pakistan for dishes like biryani;
  • Jasmine rice is the second most popular lon grain rice variety. It has a sweeter scent and is ideal for stir-fries and rice salads, mainly grown in Southeast Asia.
  • American long grain rice, less aromatic, grown in southern U.S. states like Arkansas and California;
  • Thai rice, with a slightly sweet taste and sticky texture, is good for dishes where rice grains need to stick together;
  • Carolina Gold rice, once popular and now making a comeback due to its nutty flavor and fluffy texture, is available at specialty stores and restaurants.

Then, What Does Long Grain Rice Refer to In Superstore?

When you see a rice bag labeled as long-grain rice, it may not be basmati rice or other renowned Jasmine rice. Instead, it can be any long-grain with a mild aroma and fluffy texture, like American long-grain rice or Carolina Gold, Uncle Ben’s, Mahatma, Carolina Gold, Lundberg rice, or Goya rice.


The jasmine rice is an eminent rice that needs no hiding under the label of “long grain rice.” Instead, the suppliers, mention it as “jasmine rice” on the rice bag proudly. So, to confirm the variety of your long grain rice, look for the grain info on the bag carefully.

Understanding Basmati Rice

Known as the “queen of perfumed rice” or basmati in Hindi, meaning  “full of aroma” or “fragrant,” basmati rice is premium quality long grain rice. It’s an exceptionally aromatic long-grain rice variety with a nutty, floral scent, cultivated in India and Pakistan. 

The rice grain is 8-9 millimeters long and 1 millimeter wide.

Because of this tapered end and longer size, the rice becomes slightly curved when cooked.  While the rice grows up to 2.5 times than the raw grain size.

Besides this, the grain is translucent. So, looking at the rice grain, you can easily identify whether it’s original basmati rice.

One of its key features is its unique, nutty aroma caused by the presence of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline and other compounds like furaneol and γ-decalactone. AP2 is produced in the bran of the rice kernel. When the rice is cooked, the bran breaks down and releases AP2 into the rice. AP2 is then absorbed by the rice grains, giving them their nutty flavor.

Basmati rice also stands out owing to its high amylose content, resulting in a fluffier texture and lower glycemic index than other rice types. This is why basmati rice is ideal for recipes like biryani and pulao. Basmati rice grains elongate significantly when cooked, almost doubling in length. 

Basmati rice also improves in flavor and aroma due to the aging process, ranging from 6 months to 2 years, making it a preferred choice in diverse cuisines worldwide.

Summarizing the Key Differences Between Basmati and Long Grain Rice

Here’s a table summarizing the differences between basmati rice and long Grain rice based on the information provided in the articles:

FeatureBasmati RiceLong Grain Rice
AromaNutty, floral, popcorn-likeAroma varies by type (e.g., floral, nutty)
OriginHimalayas, Pakistan, IndiaVaried (e.g., Jasmine from Southeast Asia, Carolina Gold from the U.S.)
Grain LengthLong and slender (8-9 mm)About 6-8 mm
ColorOff-white or light beige (may have amber or golden hue)Varies (e.g., white, amber)
Nutritional Value (per cup)Calories: 148, Proteins: 3.52g, Carbs: 32.39g, Fiber: 0.7gCalories: 194.34, Proteins: 4.6g, Carbs: 41.16g, Fiber: 1.42g
Texture after CookingLight, fluffy, and firm grains don’t stick togetherFluffy, firm, tender
Key Aromatic Compounds2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, furaneol, γ-decalactoneVaries based on type (e.g., Jasmine has a sweeter scent)
Popular VarietiesTraditional Basmati, Kainat 1121, Super Basmati, JasmineCarolina Gold, Thai, American Long Grain, Jasmine
Cooking TimeAbout 15-20 minutesVaries by type and whether it’s white or brown rice
Culinary UseIdeal for dishes like biryani, pilafVersatile, used in various cuisines and dishes according to desired texture and aroma
Market Demand and PriceHigh demand, higher price due to regional specificityVaries, may be influenced by popularity and demand
SubstitutesTexmati, Jasmine, Carolina riceWild rice, Couscous, Orzo, Bulgur, depending on the dish

Please note that the specific characteristics and details may vary among different varieties of both Basmati and Long Grain rice.

Conclusion: Basmati Rice is Long Grain Rice, But Every Long Grain Rice Isn’t…

Basmati rice stands out as a type of long-grain rice known for its exceptional aroma, prestige, and higher cost. It’s important to note that not all long-grain rice is basmati—look for the specific mention on the packaging. Conversely, if a rice variety is labeled as extra long but comes at a lower price, it’s likely not basmati. For a truly unmatched and unforgettable taste experience, choosing basmati rice is the key.


What Makes Basmati Rice Most Fragrant?

Basmati rice is fragrant because of a higher level of the volatile compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (2AP), found in foods such as popcorn, pandan leaves, and jasmine rice. On heating, 2AP gives basmati rice its traceable nutty and floral aroma.

A study states that the 2-AP content in basmati rice ranges from 0.178 to 0.214 parts per million (ppm). Another study published in the MDPI revealed that the 2-AP content of basmati rice increases manifold after cooking. This is because 2-AP is a volatile compound, which means that it is easily released into the air when heated.

Hence, besides fluffiness, the aroma of basmati rice makes it the most desired culinary ingredient.

What Does Best Quality Basmati Rice Taste Like?

The best quality basmati rice grown in India and Pakistan tastes different from the American native basmati rice. The reason is their processing and aging methods. This basmati rice from the subcontinent has a floral, nutty flavor comparable to popcorn. The fragrance is as noticeable as popcorn–you can trace the cooked rice from its fragrance from 50 yards distance.

Some types of basmati rice are more aromatic than others. The reason is their specific variety and aging process comprising two stages.

In the first stage, the grain is aged in the hull for 6 months, and in the second stage, it’s aged for 6 months to 2 years after removing the hull (known as polishing). The longer the rice is aged, the more fragrant and expensive it is.

What are the Different Varieties of Basmati Rice?

Basmati rice comes in various types, each with distinct features:

  • Traditional Basmati Rice: Original variety with long, slender grains, famous for its aroma and flavor. It separates well when cooked, creating fluffy dishes.
  • Kainat 1121 Basmati Rice: Known for exceptionally long grains, often over 8.4 mm, prized for its nutty aroma and taste. The variety comes from Punjab, Pakistan, and India.
  • Pusa Basmati: A shorter-grain type with a traditional aroma and slightly different appearance.
  • Super Basmati: Extra-long-grain rice with aromatic fragrance, considered premium.
  • Rozana Basmati Rice: Everyday option, less nutty, and affordable, suitable for regular meals like fried rice.
  • Dehraduni Basmati: Long-grain rice from Dehradun, India, is preferred for its cooking properties and aroma.
  • Karnal Basmati: Named after Karnal, India, it features long, slender grains and the classic Basmati aroma.
  • Taraori Basmati: Haryana-based variety with slender grains and a pleasant aroma, suitable for various dishes.
  • Amber Basmati: Rich aroma and long grains, commonly used in Indian dishes like biryanis and pulao.

These types vary slightly in flavor, aroma, and cooking properties due to factors like the region they’re grown in and processing methods.

What Rice Dishes Can Have Basmati Rice?

Basmati rice is a versatile rice that can be used in a variety of dishes, especially those calling for aroma and taste at the same time. Some of these dishes are biryani, pilaf, fried rice, jeera rice, kheer,

Long Grain Rice vs. Basmati: Which is Pricey?

One exciting comparison point between the two types of rice is their price. Since basmati rice is the most popular, it has a higher market demand. It’s more frequently purchased than other rice varieties. 

In addition, another reason for the difference in the prices is the fact that basmati rice is a regional product. Basmati rice is produced in a few states, and the best basmati rice is grown in Northern India. Consequently, basmati rice’s limited supply and regional specificity contribute to its higher prices. 

Long-grain rice has various global varieties, and basmati rice is one of them. Among all other long-grain rice varities, basmati rice stands out for its distinctive aroma and nutty taste, driven by higher levels of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, furaneol, and γ-decalactone. Additionally, its exceptional fluffiness, resulting from higher amylose content, makes it the top choice among long-grain varieties.

What are the Top 3 Methods to Cook Basmati Rice?

The 3 most popular methods to cook Basmati rice are the absorption method and the pilaf (or “pulao”) method. Here’s how to use each of these methods:

1. Boiling and Rinse Method—The Easiest Way of Cooking Basmati Rice

If you’re a beginner at cooking basmati rice, this method is for you. You can quickly cook rice using this method. However, by using the boiling method, you’ll lose some of the aroma and taste of basmati rice when rinsing excess water.

  • 1 cup (250 grams) white Basmati rice (washed and soaked for at least 1 hour)
  • 1 liter boiled kettle of water
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (zeera)
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil or butter (optional)
  • Begin by gently rinsing and rubbing the Basmati rice under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly.
  • Soak the rice in water for at least 30 minutes but no more than 1 hour. Drain after soaking.
  • In a large pot, pour in the 1-liter boiled kettle water. Bring it to a boil. (Note: The water may take some time to come back to a boil since it’s added to a cold pot.)
  • While the water is heating up, add the salt and cumin seeds directly into the water.
  • Once the water is boiling, add the rinsed and drained Basmati rice to the pot. Gently stir the rice to separate the grains.
  • Keep the heat setting high (around 9) until the water returns to a full boil.
  • Once the water is boiling vigorously, reduce the heat setting to medium-high (around 7) to maintain a steady simmer.
  • Allow the rice to cook without stirring for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Check the rice after 4-5 minutes to ensure it’s partially cooked. For this purpose, get one grain of rice and smash it on your finger by pressing it with another finger. If you don’t find a hard texture inside the rice, it’s ready for rinsing and resting. The grains should be tender outside but firm in the center. 
  • Carefully drain the partially cooked rice in a sieve or colander to remove the hot water.
  • Return the drained rice to the same pot. Even it out in the pot. – Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and set the heat to its lowest setting (around 1).
  • Let the rice steam in the covered pot for 3-4 minutes. This step allows any remaining moisture to evaporate and ensures the rice becomes fluffy.
  • After steaming, remove the lid and fluff the rice gently with a fork. – Transfer the perfectly cooked Cumin Rice (Zeera Rice) to a serving dish.

Enjoy your aromatic and fluffy Cumin Rice (Zeera Rice) as a delicious side dish for your favorite curries or as a standalone treat. It’s a simple yet flavorful addition to any meal.

2. Absorption Method (Stovetop)—Artistic Way to Prepare Basmati Rice

The absorption method is the most preferable method of cooking basmati rice when you want to preserve rice aroma and taste to its fullest. The absorption method is the traditional way to prepare pilaf or pulao. And, if you prepare biryani using rice cooked through the absorption method, you can have the best biryani ever. However, mastering this method also requires good practice. Below I’ve shared my method of cooking basmati rice with the absorption method. 

  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 4 cups water for soaking the rice
  • 1.75 cups water
  • Salt (to taste, optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of oil or butter (optional)
  • Your favorite whole spices like a pinch of cumin seeds, 1 clove (optional)
  • 3-4 leaves of mint to aid digestion and infuse more fragrance (optionally)
  • Rinse the rice under cold running water by rubbing it gently until it is clear. This step helps remove excess starch from the rice.
  • Soaking the rice (optional) for 30 minutes to 2 hours before cooking can help the grains expand and cook more evenly. 
  • Drain the rice thoroughly but gently after soaking gently. While draining rice, don’t mix them; the rice grain can break.
  • In a saucepan, bring 1.75 cups of water to a boil. You can add a pinch of salt and a small amount of oil, your preferred herbs, or butter for flavor at this stage, but these are optional.
  • Once the water boils, add the rinsed and drained basmati rice to the pot. Stir briefly but gently to ensure even distribution.
  • When the rice starts boiling in the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the rice simmer gently for about 10 to 15 minutes until the rice bed is formed with holes and bubbles popping on the surface. Avoid lifting the lid during this time to prevent steam from escaping.
  • After 10 minutes, check the rice if you see a rice bed formed with holes and bubbles and almost no visible water. It’s time to rest the rice for another 10 minutes so that the entire water is absorbed and the rice is cooked thoroughly.
  • After resting, gently fluff the cooked basmati rice with a fork, separating the grains. Serve it as a side dish or with your favorite main course.

3. Pilaf (Pulao) Method (Stovetop)—the Tastiest Rice

The pilaf method involves sautéing the rice briefly with aromatics before cooking it, adding extra flavor to the dish.

  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  •  1 ¾ cups water or broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil or butter
  • Aromatics (e.g., onions, garlic, ginger, spices)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Optional additions (e.g., vegetables, nuts, raisins)
  • As in the absorption method, rinse the basmati rice under cold water by rubbing it gently until it runs clear. Drain thoroughly.
  • In a large saucepan or skillet, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add your choice of aromatics, such as finely chopped onions, garlic, and ginger, along with any spices you desire. Sauté for a few minutes until the aromatics are fragrant and the onions become translucent.
  • Add liquid: Pour in 1 3/4 cups of water or broth and season with salt to taste. You can also add any optional ingredients like vegetables, nuts, or raisins at this stage.
  • Add the drained Basmati rice to the skillet and bring to a boil on high heat.
  • Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to low. Let the rice simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and a rice bed is formed with a tiny hole of popping bubbles.
  • Turn the heat to the lowest setting and let the rice rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Then, use a fork to fluff the rice, separating the grains.

Serve the Basmati rice pilaf as a flavorful side dish or as a base for various main courses.

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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