It's easy to confuse jasmine and basmati rices: Here's a simple guide to the differences.
Jasmine and basmati are both long-grain rice varieties that are prized around the world. Both also contain 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, a flavor compound that’s found in all rice varieties but occurs in elevated levels in aromatic rices. Here is a little background information on each type:
The delicate floral and buttery scent of jasmine rice is highly prized in Thailand. In fact, the purest form of the rice, known as Hom Mali (“good smelling”), receives special government certification. Packages of jasmine rice containing no less than 92 percent Hom Mali are stamped with a green seal from Thailand’s Department of Foreign Trade.
In India, where basmati originated, this rice is considered part of the national heritage; in 2016 it was granted Geographical Indication (GI) status, similar to the European Union’s protection for Champagne and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Indian home cooks prize basmati for its popcorn-like fragrance as well as the extreme elongation and slenderness of the cooked grains.
To learn more about the differences between jasmine and basmati rice, we prepared a batch of each. Once they were cooked, their unique qualities became apparent.
The textural differences between basmati and jasmine rice involve the two separate molecules that make up starch.
Basmati has a lot of amylose: a straight molecule that organizes into a tight formation, which helps each grain stay distinct when cooked.
Jasmine rice's starch, by contrast, has less amylose and more of another molecule: amylopectin, which has bushy branches that prevent it from organizing itself tidily. That's what gives jasmine its clingy texture.
We love both of these fragrant rices. Here's how they are commonly used.
Jasmine is a top pick for fried rice, com do (Vietnamese red rice) and hung kao mung gati (Thai coconut rice). Jasmine rice is also ideal for gently piling into a rice bowl and unmolding to make an impressive mound.