Travel Thursday #12: Rosamatta Rice – A Secret of Kerala

Rosamatta Rice

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.

Thanks Arun!]

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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
This entry was posted in Indian, Lentils, Grains, Rice and Nuts, Travel, TT and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Travel Thursday #12: Rosamatta Rice – A Secret of Kerala

  1. bee says:

    that picture is ethereal.

    Thanks, bee. It is a good word to describe it.

  2. InjiPennu says:

    Rosematta rice is not the cheapest rice. They are the most expensive rice even in Kerala.
    It is called puzhukkalari or chambaavari in kerala. They are double boiled with the huskm hence fiber rich and nutritious

    Thanks, InjiPennu. Healthy AND tasty, it could not get much better. Maybe in comparison with other rices exported from India it is cheap.

  3. InjiPennu says:

    I know it rhymes with Indian but I dont think Keralan is the right word. :)
    Keralite or Malayalee would be right :)

    Hmm, [pondering] when I use it as an adjective, it is right to use Keralan? e.g. Keralan backwaters? Just like I would say Australian, American? I will gather more information ….

  4. sangeeth says:

    the pics are awesome….

    Thank you so much sangeeth. I really appreciate your comment.

  5. sia says:

    wonderul pic… but its unpolished rice not polished rice

    Hi sia, thanks for your comment. There is some confusion about whether it is polished or unpolished – see the note that I put in the post. I will do a bit more reading….

    Did you change your blog layout? It looks fantastic.

  6. Hetal says:

    Nice pic….

    Thank you Hetal. You make my day!

  7. holybasil says:

    I’ve heard of this rice but never picked it up. I’ll have to look out for it next time I’m at the Indian grocery mart. And you’re right, it sounds very well suited to coconut.

    You are so lucky if you can get it. Do try it.

  8. ranji says:

    i love this rice!!!the combination of kanji(this rice along with its stock) and kappa is a combination in heaven.I am lucky coz i get this rice in the indian grocery stores i go to or they say they can get it for us.So u can ask the owner if they do that.chk my post on kanji and kappa

    http://rbcuisines.blogspot.com/2008/03/kanji-and-kappayucca.html

    Hey, thanks, ranji! I have linked you into the post. Sadly, all of the store owners say that it is too hard to get. But I might try in Sydney.

  9. Dr SETI says:

    I recommend you test Northern Iran’s rice (if you found it out of Iran). Great smell, taste and appearance. I’ve not seen like this anywhere else.

    I will look out for this! Thanks for the recommendation, Dr.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Reminds me of my search for unpolished Thai jasmine rice, which I have only ever had at the home of a friend who lives in Bangkok … saw it at Bangkok supermarkets, but have never been able to buy it here. It’s fabulous too, with a jasminey nuttiness, if you can imagine that…
    SW

    Hi Stephanie, I hope I can find rosamatta here or in Sydney. I will keep looking. I will have a look for Thai Jasmine too.

  11. Srivalli says:

    J, that bowl looks wonderful..these are specialty of kerala and so you find all kelarites being very fond of this! and is considered quite expensive..but when you compare basmati rice, this might be little less in price!..but taste wise so different..you got to acquire a taste for it!..beautiful pictures Jen, may I know which camera model you have?

    and do try out some bread for my mela ok!..:)

    It is interesting isnt it, expensive locally, when compared to other rices such as basmiti, it is “cheap”. Oh the taste is never forgotten. I would love another bowl of it.

    Thanks for your comments about the pics – my camera is a Canon EOS 20D.

  12. notyet100 says:

    nice post,..thnks for sharing,..

    Thank you, notyet100.

  13. limesarah says:

    So that’s what this rice is! I picked up a bag of it at the Indian grocery here because it looked interesting…now I know what to do with it.

    Hi limesarah – it is very interesting, and you are so lucky that you found some. Jealous.

  14. arundathi says:

    Just made it tonight! :) What a coincidence – was trying it out in a new recipe I got off a blog.
    Love this rice – it has a lovely nutty taste…

    Hi Arundathi, what a coincidence! I would love to know which recipe it was, or whether you are going to post one. I will link it in here.

  15. ranji says:

    Thank u so much for linking me to ur post..thats a really a nice gesture…i hope u get hold of this rice soon:)

    Thanks, your post is a great addition. I will keep looking for the rice….

  16. I haven’t come across rosa matta rice here in France yet, at least not out here in countryside…
    I’m very intrigued by your Travel Thursdays, it is alwasy interesting…how did it come about?
    Ronell

    There are lots of benefits about living in the countryside, but then there is the difficulty in sourcing some things. Travel Thursdays? They were started after my recent trip to India as a way of sharing and of sorting out my photos. And of course, reliving my wonderful experiences.

  17. TBC says:

    Regarding the rice, I agree with Srivalli’s comment that it is an acquired taste. I am a Keralite who does not care for it. :D That might have a lot to do with the fact that I have never actually lived there…
    Nothing but basmati will do for me! :-)

    I am primarily a basmati girl. I use local short grain for congee, and arborio for risotto but otherwise it is generally basmati. But rosamatta? I fell for that one in Kerala. From the first bite.

  18. Shahnas says:

    Hi

    I was searching for shops that would sell kerala groceries/restaurants selling mallu food. New to Sydney, came around 2 weeks back . If you have any idea , pls let me know

    Hi Shahnas, welcome to Sydney!!!! Best city in the world. I am not familiar with specifically Keralan food in Sydney. I am not sure where you live – there is an Indian grocery in Crown St, Surry Hills near the top end (opposite the city). Also around the corner is Maya – a lovely little eatery, with another Indian grocery nearby. There is a bit Indian/Fijian in Newtown. I think once you have made some contacts at these sort of shops, you will meet someone who will know.

  19. Hi Ganga:
    Love this rice!

    We have been eating similar rice for the last several years here in the US. This rice has a lower glycemic index because it has more fiber and nutrients and not “just” the carbs in the polished white rice. SO it is more healthier!

    Since such rice is made is small mills in every village, the methods is slightly different everywhere and thus the names are different in different localities.

    During our Dec trip to India, I actually visited a mill where they made such rice and took a lot of pics of the process. I had been meaning to write a blog post, unfortunately I don’t think I will have the time to write that till we return from India in Aug :-(

    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.

    Phew, sorry, am not editing this.
    But I hope it is helpful.
    Arun

    Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to send this information – now I understand why there is so much confusion about it. You have so much knowledge, it is amazing.

  20. joeblack20313 says:

    Dear blogger,

    We are a group of students from cochin who are currently building a web portal on kerala. in which we wish to include a kerala blog roll with links to blogs maintained by malayali’s or blogs on kerala.

    you could find our site here: http://enchantingkerala.org

    the site is currently being constructed and will be finished by 1st of Oct 2009.

    we wish to include your blog located here

    http://vegeyum.wordpress.com/

    we’ll also have a feed fetcher which updates the recently updated blogs from among the listed blogs thus generating traffic to your recently posted entries.

    If you are interested in listing your site in our blog roll; kindly include a link to our site in your blog in the prescribed format and send us a reply to enchantingkerala.org@gmail.com and we’ll add your blog immediately. Ypu can add to our blog if you have more blog pls sent us the link of other blog we will add here

    pls use the following format to link to us

    KeralaTravel

    Write Back To me Over here bijoy20313@gmail.com

    hoping to hear from you soon.

    warm regards

    Biby Cletus

  21. Janani says:

    Its unpolished all right, but some varieties are polished too. The polished will look less reddish and looks white in color and is not as tasty as the unpolished ones. But all these are pre-boiled rice (called puzhikal ari where as un pre-boiled are called pachari (malayalam) or pacharisi in tamil ). I usually put color just after 2 days of consuming these rice when ever I go to kerala. They are very good for health, but the sugar content in these rice is much higher that others. So its a big no for diabetic patients (no problem if used once in a while).

  22. su says:

    puzhungual ari

  23. Shri says:

    Just chanced upon your blog and this post. Loved it. I know this was from a couple of years ago..but here’s my two cents! :-)
    Matta Rice, particularly Palakkadan [ from Palakkad] Single-boiled Matta Rice or Rosematta Rice is available in many Indian groceries in the US. The paddy seeds are harvested and then par-boiled, dried and then husked= Puzhungal Ari/ Puzhukkal Ari. The raw variety is used in sweet dishes like payasams/ kheer and other dishes. Arun explains the de-husking process above. Have some photos but have not posted them yet!

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  25. Janet Arnold says:

    I bought some through Amazon.com

  26. cold calling says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that
    I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

  27. engineer says:

    Wonderful site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks to your effort!

  28. Interessant om te lezen en zeer goed te volgen

  29. I wish I could write like you. Your posting
    Travel Thursday #12: Rosamatta Rice – A Secret
    of Kerala | A Life (Time) of Cooking has pushed me to get off my butt and get some word
    out to the world. You have boosted my confidence just by writing so well.

  30. Radha says:

    Matta rice is polished rice. They leave only tiny specks of red on it.
    The real matta rice will be totally red, not white.

  31. Samira says:

    Hi there, I found your web site by way of Google at the same time as searching for
    a similar recipe, your web site got here up, it looks great.
    Cheers!

  32. Varma says:

    Hello, I am also a true fan of this unpolished healthy rice from Kerala, luckily they are available in Sydney in various south Indian stores and I have found one online site http://www.spicedeal.com.au in Sydney selling the same matta rice.

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