The Real Difference Between Basmati Rice And Jasmine Rice

If you've ever stared at bags of basmati and jasmine rice in the grocery store, then you might have had difficulty coming to a conclusion about which one to buy. They are often treated as interchangeable (via The Kitchn) and make good substitutes for plain long-grain white rice. Basmati and jasmine rice are both aromatic and often used in different kinds of dishes ranging from Middle Eastern to Indian to Asian cuisines. So, if you find yourself wondering what the real difference is, you are probably not alone. 

Jasmine rice originally comes from Thailand and is more typical of Southeast Asian cuisine while basmati rice originated in India and is more frequently eaten in the Middle East. Jasmine has a sweeter, more floral fragrance than basmati, which actually translates to "full of fragrance" (via Taste Essence). While there are clear geographical and olfactory differences between the two, there are other, possibly less obvious differences, too. You just have to look very closely at both varieties of rice to notice.

The difference is apparent after cooking the rice

The first difference you might notice between jasmine and basmati rice is more of a tactile difference. Jasmine rice tends to be softer after it is cooked. Grains of jasmine rice also tend to stick together a lot more than basmati rice. So, if you experience very starchy and sticky rice when you dig your fork into the bowl, then chances are it is jasmine rice instead of basmati. There's a physical difference you can likely spot without even touching jasmine rice, too. The grains tend to be shorter and thicker than basmati rice, so you can look for that indicator as well.

Cooking basmati rice results in dry, fluffy grains, according to Taste Essence. It has to be soaked in water for around half an hour before cooking it while jasmine rice does not. This helps prevent the grains from breaking while they cook evenly in boiling water. Jasmine rice can simply be steamed or cooked in a specific amount of water that the grains will absorb, according to The Kitchn. So you can experiment with cooking both kinds of rice to find which you prefer and which works best for you and your needs.