Sella Rice vs. Basmati: Differences Explained

Are you bewildered by the choice between basmati rice and sella rice?

You’re not alone.

Two popular varieties, basmati and sella rice, often make it to our shopping carts. 

But what sets them apart, which one should you choose, and how can you perfectly cook them? 

Let’s break it down.

Key Takeaways

Basmati rice is renowned for its delicate fragrance, exquisite elongation during cooking, and slightly nutty flavor. Sella rice, on the other hand, boasts a translucent, yellowish appearance, a firm texture, and a neutral taste. This difference stems from the processing methods employed for each type of rice.

What is Basmati Rice?

basmati rice grains
Basmati rice grain is partially translucent, pale in color (not as white as jasmine rice is), cylindrical at one end, and tapered like a pen’s nib on the other end.

Basmati rice, often hailed as the “King of Rice,” is a long-grain rice variety known for its distinctive aroma owing to a higher ratio of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (the aromatic compound) and fluffy texture thanks to high amylose content. Basmati rice is primarily grown in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the foothills of the Himalayas. Basmati rice grains undergo a natural aging process, enhancing their aroma and flavor–a short aging duration may cause an almost bland taste. These grains elongate significantly during cooking, resulting in fluffy, separate grains.

What is Sella Rice?

Sella rice grain has pale to yellow color, and tapered ends.
Sella rice has a pale yellow color, completely translucent grain and tapered ends.

Sella rice, often known as golden sella rice, is crafted through a special parboiling process. Rice, with its husk intact, takes a hot water dip, gets dried, and then milled. This soaking step releases husk nutrients into the rice, adding a nutritional boost.

Parboiling works magic on sella rice, ensuring a firm and separate texture—ideal for salads, soups, and stews. It’s not just about taste; parboiling extends sella rice’s shelf life, keeping spoilage at bay. This process not only packs in more nutrients but also guarantees uniform cooking for every grain.

The unique parboiling technique gives sella rice a remarkable 4X volume after cooking, outdoing basmati rice’s 3X volume while preserving nutrients. Notably, sella rice is common to basmati; it can be made from various long-grain rice types like jasmine or Thai rice. So, whether it’s obtained from basmati or another long-grain, sella rice brings a touch of perfection to your plate.

Appearance of Sella Rice and Basmati Rice

Sella rice and basmati rice grains share impressive lengths, but sella rice boasts a 20% thicker grain than basmati rice after cooking. Basmati rice showcases a blend of white and translucent grains, whereas sella rice dons a golden hue with equally translucent grains. The subtle differences in appearance contribute to the distinct visual appeal of each rice variety.

Differences in Taste Between Sella Rice and Basmati Rice

The taste showdown between sella and basmati rice boils down to personal preference. Basmati rice boasts a delicate, nutty, and highly aromatic flavor with floral undertones, ideal for pairing with various cuisines that primarily focus on taste. 

Sella rice, on the other hand, with its parboiling process, has a slightly firmer texture and a more neutral taste owing to the rice variety used, making it a versatile companion to a variety of dishes.

When Should You Choose Sella Rice or Basmati Rice?

The choice between sella and basmati rice depends on your culinary intentions. If you’re aiming for an aromatic experience, basmati is your go-to. It complements Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian dishes impeccably. On the flip side, sella rice’s sturdier structure makes it an excellent choice for dishes with robust flavors, like biryanis and pilafs.

Basmati Rice vs. Sella Rice: Moisture Level

Sella rice is a bit more moist than basmati rice. Sella rice has 14% moisture, whereas basmati rice has 12% moisture. 

Higher moisture in sella rice is because of the parboiling process that sella rice undergoes, gelatinizing the rice’s starch, making the grains more translucent, and preventing them from sticking together as much when cooked. 

Sella rice is less sticky than basmati rice, which makes it a good choice for dishes that require a firm, separate grain texture.

Basmati Rice vs. Sella Rice: Soaking Time

Basmati rice needs a 30-minute to soak before cooking. On the other hand, Sella rice needs a prolonged time of 2 hours at least to soak.

Basmati Rice vs. Sella Rice: Cooking Time

For cooking time, basmati rice is the swift contender, requiring less time in the pot.

On the flip side, sella rice demands a bit more patience, needing about 25% more time to reach its optimal texture. So, if time is of the essence, basmati might be your go-to, but if you’re willing to wait for that perfect bite, sella rice is worth the extra minutes.

Basmati Rice vs. Sella Rice: Which is Better for Beginners?

For the novice chef navigating the world of rice, sella rice emerges as the friendly contender. Its forgiving nature during cooking and less demanding requirements make it an excellent starting point. 

Basmati rice, with its longer cooking time and sensitivity to water ratios, might be better suited for those ready to take on a slightly more nuanced culinary challenge.

Basmati Rice vs. Sella Rice: Which is Healthier?

Both basmati and sella rice have similar nutritional profiles, but sella rice retains more nutrients due to the parboiling process. It serves as a healthier option with enhanced nutrient preservation, making it a smart choice for those seeking a nutritious rice variety.

Summarizing the Differences Between Sella and Basmati Rice

FeatureBasmati RiceSella Rice
AppearanceWhite and translucent grainsGolden hue with equally translucent grains
TasteDelicate, nutty, highly aromaticSlightly firmer texture, neutral taste
Culinary UseIdeal for aromatic dishesSuitable for a variety of dishes, especially with robust flavors
Cooking TimeShorter cooking timeLonger cooking time (about 25% more)
Moisture Level12% moisture content14% moisture content
Soaking Time30 minutesAt least 2 hours
Nutrient RetentionSimilar nutritional profilesSella rice retains more nutrients due to the parboiling process.


Whether you lean towards the aromatic allure of basmati or the practicality of sella, understanding their differences and mastering their cooking techniques ensures a delightful dining experience. 

Happy cooking!

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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