In the average supermarket, there are probably under ten different varieties of rice on offer. However, there are over 40,000 cultivated all over the world. Each one can be divided into three categories: long-, medium- or short-grain, depending on their shape and size. Some are multi-purpose, whereas others are associated with specific dishes.
In short, rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza Sativa, which requires lots of water to grow. Once harvested, grains are milled to remove the outer inedible husk. At this point they are known as brown rice, which has the highest nutritional content, has a firmer texture and a distinctive nutty flavour. To make white rice, the seeds are then milled further until the bran is removed. Some grains are steamed in the husk, a process called parboiling, whereby the nutrients migrate into the centre of the grains and the starch solidifies, resulting in firmer grains.
Knowing which rice to cook for use in a particular cuisine or dish is key to an authentic experience. We’ve put together a guide to the ten most common types of rice and the cuisines they’re best used in, so you can choose the right kind to serve for dinner tonight.