Sona Masoori vs. Basmati Rice: Difference & Healthiness

If you’ve ever wandered down the rice aisle at your local grocery store, you’ve probably come across two popular names: Sona Masoori and Basmati. 

But what exactly is Sona Masoori rice, and how does it stack up against the most beloved basmati? 

Let’s demystify these rice varieties, exploring their origins, characteristics, and the delightful dishes they’re best suited for. 

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or rice enthusiast, this article will help you discover the flavorful secrets behind these grains!

Difference Between Sona Masoori Rice and Basmati Rice (A Quick Look)

Basmati Rice

Origin: Himalayan region in India and Pakistan.
Grain: Long, slender grains (6.61-7.5mm).
Aroma: Strong, sweet, nutty, and floral fragrance.
Texture: Fluffy, separate grains; lower starch content.
Cooking Time: Longer cooking time, but yields fluffy result.
Versatility: Ideal for biryani, pulao, curries, and desserts.

Sona Masoori Rice

Origin: South India.
Grain: Medium-sized grains (5.0mm).
Aroma: Mild, earthy aroma; less fragrant than basmati.
Texture: Slightly sticky; balanced starch content.
Cooking Time: Cooks faster, suitable for quick meals.
Versatility: Used in dosa, idli, fried rice, and various regional dishes.

Sona Masoori Rice vs. Basmati Rice: Detailed Difference

What is Sona Masoori Rice and Its Key Characteristics?

Sona Masoori, or Sona Masuri (meaning Golden Ivy), is a medium grain rice type popular in South India and other parts of India. It’s a hybrid of two Indian rice varieties, Sona and Masuri.` 

It thrives in the region’s warm and humid climate. Therefore, it’s grown in the southern states of India, especially in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It’s a versatile, easy-to-cook, mildly aromatic rice variety, popular in south India and worldwide.

Here are some key characteristics of Sona Masoori rice:

Grain Size

Sona Masoori rice has medium-sized grains. The average length of Sona Masoori rice grains is about 5.0 millimeters.

 They’re not long and slender like basmati rice, nor too short and round like some other short grain rice varieties. This medium size makes it versatile for various dishes.


Sona Masoori or Sona Masuri rice has a starch ratio higher than basmati but lower than shorter-grain rice varieties. That’s why the rice is a bit more sticky than basmati rice when cooked. However, it’s not as sticky as some shorter-grain rice varieties. 

Sona Masoori rice’s balanced individual grains with a touch of creaminess make it suitable for rice dishes where you want a bit of cohesion.

Aroma and Taste

Sona Masoori rice has a milder aroma than basmati rice. The reason is the lower content of the aromatic compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, which is about 0.8 mg/kg in Sona Masoori rice—lower than basmati rice. 

Still, the rice offers a subtle and pleasant earthy aroma to dishes without overpowering the flavors of other ingredients. Therefore, Sona Masoori rice is a good choice for various recipes.

Cooking Time

Sona Masoori rice takes less cooking time because it doesn’t require soaking rice before cooking as basmati rice does. Simply rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Then, place the rice in a bowl or pot and cover it with cold water. Soak the rice for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.


Sona Masoori rice is versatile and can be used in various traditional Indian recipes like:

  • Dosa
  • Idli
  • Pongal
  • Coconut rice
  • Lemon rice
  • Tomato rice
  • Vegetable pulao
  • Curd rice
  • Cabbage rice
  • Fried rice
  • Upma


You can find Sona Masoori rice in most Indian grocery stores, and it’s also gaining popularity in international markets due to its versatility, lower price as unpolished rice, and pleasant characteristics–basmati unpolished rice, known as brown rice, is more expensive.

What is Basmati Rice and Its Key Characteristics?

Basmati rice is the most prized rice variety, known for its unique qualities and rich flavor. Authentic Basmati rice comes from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in India and Pakistan. This region’s specific climate, soil, and water contribute to the rice’s unique characteristics. Traditional Pakistani and Indian dishes like biryani, pulao, and rice-based desserts always call for basmati rice to create flavorful delights.

Basmati rice is available in many varieties like super basmati, Kainat basmati, karnal basmati rice, etc. However, brown rice never means basmati. 

Brown rice isn’t a rice variety but a state of processed rice. If your basmati rice comes right from the hull, without removing bran and germ, it’s brown or unpolished basmati rice in dusty color. And, if the rice’s bran and germ have been fully removed and the grain is cream white, it’s called white or polished basmati rice. The same goes for Sona Masoori rice, which is also available as unpolished (brown) or polished.

Let’s break down basmati rice’s key characteristics simply:

Long, Slender Grains

Basmati rice grains are long and slender, like tiny cylinders. The average length of basmati rice grains is between 6.61 and 7.5 millimeters. When cooked, the basmati rice grains make the longest grain, which may grow up to 2 cm.

Basmati rice's Kainat variety grains raw and when cooked as pulao
Comparison of Basmati rice’s Kainat variety grains raw and cooked (as pulao)

Therefore, the basmati rice packaging often describes it as “longest grain” rice. This distinct shape sets basmati rice apart from other varieties, including long, medium, short, and round grains.


Basmati rice is famous for its overpowering fragrance. When cooked, it releases a sweet, nutty, and somewhat popcorn-like floral aroma that fills the kitchen and surroundings and enhances the overall dining experience. The secret is a higher ratio of the 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline compound, giving popcorn, rice, and other foods a distinctive fragrance when heated. Basmati rice has 1.2 mg of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline per kg.


Basmati rice has a relatively lower starch content than other varieties, including Sona Masoori rice. This lower starch content contributes to its most fluffy and separate grain texture when cooked. 

The grains don’t clump together or become sticky until overcooked. This characteristic makes Basmati rice ideal for dishes where you want each grain to stand alone, like pilafs, biryanis, or as a side dish.

The lower starch content also means that Basmati rice has a lower glycemic index than other rice varieties, making it a favorable choice for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels.


Basmati rice has a subtle, nutty flavor with a hint of floral notes. This mild taste complements a wide range of dishes and doesn’t overpower the flavors of accompanying ingredients.


To develop a classic and distinctive aroma, basmati rice requires aging for up to 1 year. The prestigious basmati rice goes through a unique aging process: rice is first aged in a hull for 6 months, then after removing the hull, it’s again aged for 2 years. This basmati rice turns out to be the longest and most aromatic.

Cooking Time

Basmati rice takes longer to cook than other rice varieties because of its long grains. However, the result is worth the extra time, yielding fluffy, separate grains.


While Basmati rice is a staple in South Asian cuisine, many dishes can also have it. It pairs well with recipes, like:

  • Biryani
  • Pulao
  • Pilaf
  • Fried rice
  • Vegetable rice
  • Curries
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Rice pudding
  • Kheer
  • Payesh

To Summarize

Sona Masoori and basmati, both rice varieties, have their unique charms. To make the best choice, you should seek advice from your recipe. Recipes like biryani or pulao require more fragrant rice like basmati, and altering the rice variety might not yield the best results. Yet, as for Sona Masoori rice, you can substitute it with basmati rice, and your dish will turn out more flavorful and delicious.


Sona Masoori vs. Basmati Rice: Which is Healthier?

Basmati rice is healthier than Sona Masoori rice because of its lower glycemic index. Less starch of basmati rice means low calories, though the difference is slight. 

Here is a table comparing the nutritional value of Sona Masoori rice and basmati rice per 100g:

NutrientSona Masoori riceBasmati rice
Glycemic index7250-58 (unpolished and polished respectively)

Ultimately, the best choice of rice for you will depend on your individual dietary needs and preferences. Yet, if you want to make the healthiest choice, opt for low-GI rice. Glycemic index (the value that determines how slowly glucose is released from food in your bloodstream).

On your grocery store shelves, using “unpolished rice” on Sona Masoori rice packaging might motivate you to have it as a healthier choice. Don’t be fooled…unpolished basmati variety brown rice is better than Sona Masoori brown rice because of less starch. Yet, if you simply buy white basmati rice, it’ll not offer you the health benefits of brown rice.


Try unpolished basmati rice (basmati brown rice), which has a lower glycemic index because of its higher fiber content. It’ll get you more fiber to aid digestive health and prevent certain cancers. However, using unpolished basmati rice aka. Basmati brown rice for traditional dishes can come with a learning curve and might not get the same results.

Sona Masoori vs. Basmati Rice: Which is Better For Weight Loss?

For weight loss, basmati rice is a better choice than Sona Masoori rice. 

Here’s why:

Basmati rice has a lower glycemic index of 50-58 (depending on sub-variety). In contrast, Sona Masoori rice has This means it doesn’t cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels when consumed, helping to control hunger and reduce cravings. Stable blood sugar levels are essential for weight management.

Additionally, basmati rice is recommended in weight loss diets because it is a more balanced source of carbohydrates. Brown rice contains higher fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can help maintain overall health and provide a feeling of fullness.

So, if you’re aiming for weight loss, basmati rice is the better choice because of its lower glycemic index and better overall nutritional profile. And brown basmati rice (unpolished basmati rice) is the best choice.

Basmati Rice vs. Sona Masoori: which is more Expensive?

Basmati rice is more expensive than Sona Masoori rice. It’s because factors like specific cultivation requirements and long aging processes contribute to the higher cost of basmati rice. Himalayan foothills in India and Pakistan. Contrarily, Sona Masoori rice undergoes quicker maturing, saving the additional aging cost.

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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