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Features

11 Food Experts On Why Red Rice Is Trending In Restaurants & Cafés Across India

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Red rice is the new trend in food and dining that is slowly; but surely, gaining pace and favour amongst food enthusiasts, chefs and F&B outlets. But, what’s the whole deal with it anyway?

I decided to take the discussion to 11 food experts, including chefs, dieticians and FMCG entrepreneurs, to tell you everything you probably need to know about red rice because we know you’re going to want to experiment, taste and see what all the fuss is about.

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Traditions Wild Rice by Foodhall

The Facts

Ragini Mehra, Founder, BeautySource.in—an ecommerce wellness website that pioneers the sale of Bhutanese Red Rice—enlightens us, stating, “It (red rice) is a trend as far as a sudden boost in people’s awareness of its many incredible benefits is concerned; but, as such, red rice has been a staple for many healthy families particularly in the mountainous regions of India and Bhutan.” The rice derives its colour from anthocyanins, which deliver protective antioxidant properties and anti-carcinogenic activities that aid in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer prevention. In comparison studies of different rice varieties, red rice has shown the most promising health results. It is said to have 10 times the antioxidants that brown rice has and nutrient dense with 20 percent of the daily values for magnesium, phosphorus, and molybdenum.

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© The Perfect Pantry

Red rice is specifically typical to Himalayan Mountains, southern Tibet, Bhutan, as well as southern India says Abhishek Basu, Executive Chef at The Park, New Delhi. “We get our red rice from Original India Table.” Ashutosh Nerlekar, Executive Chef, The Park Chennai informs us that the concept of red rice is, indeed an old but forgotten one. Neeraj Tyagi, Executive Chef, Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi, adds by saying that before the concept hit mainstream food culture, red rice was popular in Bhutan as Bhutanese red rice and was the staple food of Bhutan. “It has only its hull removed and retains the bran and germ and is not polished as excessive polishing removes much of the nutritional value of any rice,” he explains. Sagar S Bajaj, Chef, at Lazeez Affaire, breaks it down further, stating that its use was started by few small nations in 1990 and has been followed by others ever since. “There has been an ongoing conversation around red rice and Bhutanese red rice and how each contributes towards a healthy lifestyle.” Which brings me to my next question: What’s the difference between the two?

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© BeautySource

The Bhutan Connect

Mehra tells us that the red rice grown in Bhutan is of an extraordinary quality. Bhutan is the world’s first country that is working towards being 100 per cent organic very soon and so the rice has been grown without any chemical pesticides or herbicides. The incredibly rich quality of the rice is because of the location of the paddy fields 9000 ft above sea level irrigated by the mineral-rich waters of the glaciers. “I have known about the benefits of red rice for a long time and when I got an opportunity to bring Bhutan’s premium brand of red rice to India, it was a no-brainer for me,” she quips.

Bhutanese Red Rice is grown only in Bhutan at 8,000 feet in the fertile soil in the eastern Himalayas. “It is red japonica rice that is semi-milled and some of the reddish bran is left on the rice,” explains Tyagi. The whole grain rice has high nutritional value and cooks faster. Bajaj further adds, saying that “The quality of grains is what differentiates red rice from Bhutanese red rice. When cooked, Bhutanese red rice is pale pink, soft and slightly sticky.”

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Spicie Foodie

According to Chef Saurabh Udinia, Head Chef – Masala Library, Farzi Café & MasalaBar, Massive Restaurants Pvt Ltd., each serving of Bhutanese red rice offers 2 percent of your recommended daily allotment for iron, 80 percent for manganese, 20 percent for magnesium, 20 percent for phosphorus, 35 percent for molybdenum and 6 percent for zinc. Whereas, the red bran layer of red rice contains 95% of the minerals and dietary fibre of the whole rice, which contains iron, zinc, potassium, sodium, manganese and so forth. Inner white portion contains predominantly carbohydrate and proteins.

How Healthy Is It?

Mehar Rajput, Dietitian and Nutritionist, Fitpass goes on to list out the many health benefits of consuming red rice. “Being loaded with fibre, red rice helps you decrease your desire to eat more and may cause you to feel jam-packed for a longer period of time. It’s full of zinc which accelerates the healing of wounds and maintains the mechanism of your body to help it function effectively. It also helps in reducing your body’s level of total cholesterol, improves bowel movement and reduces the symptoms of constipation and assists in weight control,” she says. “Being rich in complex carbohydrates, it reduces the risk of many metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, PCOS, hypothyroidism and cardiovascular diseases. Red rice also helps in fighting asthma, reduces the elevated sugar level, builds immunity, is considered good for bone health. It is high in antioxidants which counteracts free radicals and improves blood circulation and digestion,” she further adds.

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Miso-Sesame Shredded Salad with Red Rice & Gingered Carrots Blue Apron

100 grams of red rice is supposed to contain 405 kilocalories, 7 grams protein, 86.7 grams carbs, 2.7 per cent fibre, 5.5 milligrams iron, 3.3 milligrams zinc and 6 milligrams sodium.

Rajput suggests consuming it with a variety of meat curries, exotic salads, pulses and vegetables. “It can be followed up with any kind and variety of cuisines.”

The Relish

Because red rice also tastes absolutely fantastic and can be used to cook a mind-boggling variety of dishes, its rich, nutty flavour and lovely soft and chewy texture makes it a favourite for anyone who tries it. “Red rice is not only flavourful but also nutritious and that’s what we are using to make people healthy without them even suspecting it,” Mehra reveals.

“This russet-coloured whole grain goes well with most meats and vegetables, or when served as a pilaf or salad,” says Tyagi. “Because it is a good source of fiber and fulfills the iron needs of the body I am always looking for ways to offer the item to guests in a way that suits their lifestyle.”

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Kale and Millet +Red Rice Soup by Smoke House Deli

“Red rice is both a treat to the eyes and the palate; and it has a higher nutritional value than polished rice. Along with that, it’s earthy taste and complex flavor makes it a preferable choice for the consumers,” explains Glyston Gracias, City Chef at Smoke House Deli, who adds that the item definitely attracts customers. “I do not think it’s a trend. Awareness is what is making it sound trendy.”

Bajaj brings up a unique element about the item. “It is definitely the new attraction for food photography for its scrumptiousness and visual appeal on a plate,” he says. “It’s more ‘instaworthy’ and well, we all like capturing the beauty served to us while dining.”

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Red rice salad with pickled cucumber, cauliflower & corn by The Roseate

“Diners, today, are increasingly conscious of the food they consume and are gravitating towards healthier substitutes, especially when they dine out,” reasons Udinia. “I am extremely glad that people are going back to basics, in terms of their grains selection, cooking techniques and meal balance.” He is of the opinion that rice’s unique colour and flavour, coupled with its distinct crunch is what spikes the interest of diners.

Chef Nishant Choubey, Corporate Chef, Roseate House and The Roseate New Delhi, reasons that people tend to prefer red rice because it does not break easily and gives a great crunch once consumed. Although, Choubey adds, “As a Chef, I would prefer brown rice to red rice since the availability of the same is not an issue. It has a very consistent supply and guest feedback for it is very positive, too.”

The Verdict

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Pinterest

Nerlekar is of the view that red rice is more of an acquired taste. “Also there has to be conscious effort towards wellness which should be on a continuous basis to achieve result,” he adds. Tyagi explains that there is less awareness about it but since people are moving towards use of organic products and healthy eating. “The chefs are willing to experiment and wish to come up with red rice inspired dishes. There is no way one can go wrong with red rice,” he expresses. Gracias describes it as getting “back to the basics”.

Rajput warns people suffering from problems related to indigestion against trying red rice as it is said to be high in complex fibre and can further lead to heaviness in the stomach and severe indigestion.

“A healthy life is important but so is a happy one, thus it is all about striking a balance between taste and nutrition when it comes to food,” says Mehra. “But, overall, it’s delicious, healthy and suitable for any cuisine. What’s not to love?”

Options Worth Checking Out

1. Karnataka’s Bisibelebath Arancini

Served At: Fire, The Park, New Delhi

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Karnataka_s Bisibelebath Arancini at Fire by The Park New Delhi

2. Red Rice Kedgeree with Smoked Salmon & Edamame  

Served At: The Park, Chennai

3. Red Rice with Fish Curry

Served At: Tamra, Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi

4. Red Rice Nasi Goreng with Green Peas and Egg

Served At: The Roseate, New Delhi

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Red rice Nasi Goreng with green peas & egg by The Roseate

5. Red Rice Risottos

Served At: Whiskey Samba, Gurgaon

6. Kefir-Soaked Chicken + Organic Red Rice + Brown Rice Flakes (Salad)

Served At: All Smoke House Deli outlets across India

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Smoke House Deli

7. Scottish Salmon with Red Rice

Served At: Lazeez Affaire, New Delhi

Food Experts On Whether Red Rice Is The New Brown Rice

© Scottish Salmon with Red Rice by Lazeez Affaire

8. Chicken Mizo StewServed At: Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra

Source: MensXP

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