Rosa Matta rice is a secret from Kerala, India. A wonderfully healthy, (un)polished** rice with a unique pinkish colour and a wonderful nutty taste. As India tightens its export of rice, it becomes less available overseas. Today I searched Adelaide, but none of the Indian groceries are able to get stocks of it.
I loved this rice, and am so sad that I can’t get it here. No matter where you go in Kerala this rice is always an option, even in Punjabi restaurants! I believe it is a relatively cheap rice*** at least in comparison to other rices exported from India, but it is served everywhere, from corner local cafe to top hotels. It is so well suited to dishes from Kerala, flavoured beautifully with coconut.
[UPDATE: It's June, 2011, and I have recently found a red rice from Sri Lanka, similar to RosaMatta in two of my local Indian grocers. And it is wonderful, nutty and a taste treat indeed.]
[UPDATE: It is November, 2011, and I have finally found the real thing - a 10kg bag at my local Indian grocer. I am quite excited.]
InjiPennu tells me that it is called puzhukkalari or chambaavari in Kerala. It is double boiled and fibre rich and nutritious.
** There is some debate about whether rosamatta rice is polished or unpolished. My internet research found a number of places that say that it is polished. Some bloggers say that it is unpolished. Do you have a definitive answer? Please let me know.
*** Where ever I went today in search of rosamatta rice, the Indian grocers told me that India is not exporting its cheaper rices. Cheaper means in relation to basmatti. In Kerala it is one of the more expensive rices available. If you have more information on this please let me know.
[In response to my pleas, Arun Shanburg has clarified it for us. This is from his comment below:
Is it polished or not?
To remove the husk from the rice kernel, the rice grain is soaked, boiled, soaked and dried. Then in a mill, it is lightly crushed to break the husk and brushed against a belt to release the husk. Then the husk is blown off while the ‘rice kernel’ is collected.
If you stop here, the rice is NOT Polished, but since it does brush against a belt (to remove the husk), some folks may consider this polishing - but it is not. I have close-up pics of the rice grain and you can see bits of husk still stick to the rice grain, giving it the reddish-brown tinge. (you will have to wait for my post to see the pics). Further, since this is done in small mills, the process is not completely standardized and any small change in boiling and soaking gives it a slightly different color (and depends on local rice variants too).
In white rice, the kernel does have to be boiled, but the soaking steps are very short (so the color and nutrients from the husk does not penetrate the rice kernel). The husk is removed as above and the rice kernel is further “polished” to remove ALL remnants of the husk. Thus the rice grain ends up ‘white.’ Also, white rice is usually milled in larger regional mills, bagged and resold in the local villages. In contrast, the par-boiled rice is grown and milled locally (and thus is cheaper, locally).
More on: Cheap or expensive?
Notice, the raw (or cooked) rice grain is larger (or puffier) in the par-boiled varieties (rosamatta, …). This is because the grain is not polished much and more of the rice is saved. In contrast, since the white rice grain has to be polished a lot, more of the rice kernel is lost in the polishing process and the grain ends up smaller. Thus the boiled rice yields a higher percentage of the raw rice grain that the polished white rice. Thus the boiled rice ends up cheaper!
Local laborers in the villages eat a lot of par-boiled rice. It is cheaper for them to take the grain to the local mill and get it de-husked.
Having said that - because of economies of scale, white rice production might be cheaper if you are buying it in places far removed from the local villages where it is grown and milled. Par-boiled rice will be cheaper locally where it is made.
Read some more:
- Mahanandi has a Rosamatta Rice and Dal, and in this post, has a number of recipes using rosamatta.
- Jugalbandi compares several different kinds of Indian rices.
- Ranji’s Kitchen has a wonderful recipe for Kanji (rosamatta in a soupy stock) with Kappa
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- 2. Siem Reap New Market, Cambodia Part 1
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