Oryza sativa: Rice, Asian rice

Family: Poaceae
Common name: Rice, Asian rice

Rice is the staple food in Asian cuisine, especially and China and India. Paddy, the plant which produces rice is a grass that has many sub-species producing white, brown, black, purple and red rice. And also, short grain, long grain, sticky rice and more.

Some varieties can be grown on dry land whereas some others are grown in water-filled paddy fields. The plants grow to a height of about 1 meter, the stem having some nodes from where the leaves sprout.

The grains grow on long spikes that bend over when they are fully grown. The harvested grains are processed by removing the outer, tough hull and the brownish bran that covers the endosperm. The rice grain or endosperm retains the outer bran coating in ‘brown rice’, whereas it’s polished to removed the bran in ‘white rice’. ‘Red rice’, eaten specifically in Kerala retains most of the bran on the rice grain.

Rice is usually eaten boiled. But there is also rolled rice, beaten rice, puffed rice; that are used for snacks and savory dishes. Rice flour is used to make dosas, idiyappams, appams, puttu and other breakfast dishes. The absence of gluten means that rice flour is usually not used in breads or cookies. Rice bran oil is a healthy substitute to other vegetable oils.

Rice has medicinal properties and is used in treatment of skin diseases, stomach ailments, nausea, indigestion etc. Most of the beneficial components of rice come from the bran which is more than 20% fiber. The paddy plants left after removing rice grains from them is used for thatching huts, making bedding, as animal fodder and as fuel.

Propagation is from rice grains.

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