South Africa’s appetite for rice consumption is unarguably one of the highest in the world.
Coupled with being the world’s second highest importer of the food crop, rice is a major staple food in the country and is consumed across different social and age strata.
Usually, this means that even when the country is producing rice at the available capacity of 6 million tonnes yearly, there’s still a huge shortfall in supply. This shortfall is cushioned by the importation of a wide range of foreign rice.
South Africa spends an estimated 1.4 billion ZAR on rice importation daily. Between 2011 and 2015, South Africans gulped around 17 million tonnes of imported rice. This means that the country’s rice market is still very much lucrative for foreign rice importers.
Among popular imported rice varieties is the Basmati rice.
Basmati is a highly priced rice variety considered by many to be the best among the different rice varieties. Unfortunately, it’s not currently cultivated locally and all supplies are sourced from foreign exporters.
In appearance, it is generally longer and thinner than any locally available rice variety. Although it doesn’t particularly enjoy a huge market share in the country, it’s distinct features ensures its continuous gain in popularity among South Africans.
Price of Basmati Rice in South Africa
When compared to locally cultivated varieties, Basmati rice is significantly costly. Unlike most rice varieties, this type is not generally available in 25kg or 50kg bags. Bags of 10kg, 5kg, and 2kg are more popular and available in major supermarkets and open markets across the country.
The prices of Basmati rice are significantly affected by exchange rates; higher exchange rates may have a significant impact on its availability.
Also, anti-import policies of the South Africa government put pressure on the importers of this rice, which in turn affect the prices. Below are the prices of the most popular Basmati rice brands in South Africa:
4.5kg Tilda Basmati Rice – R$ 278
2kg TRS Basmati Rice – R$ 93
5kg Parboiled Basmati Rice for Diabetes – R$ 278
5kg Lal Qilla Basmati Rice – R$ 245
5kg India Gate Basmati Rice – R$ 193
5kg TRS Basmati Rice – R$ 185
10kg Royal Basmati Rice – R$ 389
Basmati Rice in South Africa
Basmati rice, predominantly imported from India, is a long grain rice variety with visibly distinct features. It is currently sold in South Africa in different brands including Tilda Basmati Rice, India Gate Basmati Rice, Lal Qilla Basmati Rice, TRS Basmati Rice, Royal Basmati Rice and a handful of others.
It has a unique spicy flavour and fragrance not obtainable from any locally cultivated variety. Its biggest selling point is its lengthening ability – it significantly increases in length when cooked. On average, the grains increases to twice its dry size after cooking. It is the longest grain rice variety currently available in both South Africa and global markets.
Like almost every other rice, Basmati rice is available in brown and white colors. The popularly sold white Basmati rice is basically the same as the brown. When harvested, the rice is brown in color; the brownish outer husk of the grains are then pilled off to get the white variant.
However, the discarded husk contains a huge amount of dietary fiber, fatty acids and dozens of essential nutrients. Thus, the brown Basmati rice is usually considered more nutritious than white subtype. The brown Basmati rice also has a stronger aroma and nutty flavor than the white Basmati. Due to this, the brown one is usually more expensive than the white one.
However, Basmati rice is usually tender, light, and fluffy irrespective of color. Quality Basmati reportedly undergoes a two-year aging process which ensures it is thoroughly dried and further enhances its non-sticky nature. Both are also gluten-free, low in fat and contain a good amount of folic acid and all eight essential amino acids. It has very minute traces of sodium and totally cholesterol free.
Also, it has a relatively low glycemic index. This means that it releases energy at a slow and steady rate to ensure a more balanced energy level in the body.
Unlike most locally available rice, Basmati rice grains remain separate and non-greasy after cooking rather than being sticky or clumped together. Due to its open texture, flavors used in cooking the rice easily permeates the grains, making it blend easily with a whole lot of recipes.
While a greater percentage of locally available Basmati rice is imported from India, a small percentage is imported from Pakistan and the United States. The non-Indian varieties are usually considered as hybrid varieties with properties of both Basmati and Jasmine rice.
Basmati Rice Buying Tips
If you crave for quality and nutritious Basmati rice, it’s advised to buy from reputable supermarkets or e-commerce store only. A number of rice brands sold as Basmati aren’t actually the Basmati variety. They are usually other long grain rice variety repacked in bags of Basmati rice.
The key to detecting this for the 10kg bags is inspecting the lead of the product bag for tampering. For smaller 2kg and 5kg bags that come in partially transparent bags, the best way to spot fakes is careful inspection of the grains.
As earlier discussed, grains of Basmati rice is distinctively different from any other available varieties. Usually, this means a taller and thinner appearance than other varieties.
Also, Basmati rice variety is almost never available for retail sales in measurement containers as obtainable for most rice varieties in the country. Another notable point is that the US imported Basmati rice variants, like Texmati, do not have the same nutritional value as those imported from India.
Lal Qilla and India Gate Basmati rice are considered as some of the best among the locally sold Basmati rice.
Basmati Rice Key Takeaways
- It is considered the best among all locally available rice variety
- Basmati rice has the longest grain of any rice, both imported and locally cultivated varieties
- It is uniquely light and fluffy
- Basmati rice is highly priced for its non-sticky nature
- It has a sweet and spicy aroma
- It’s significantly more expensive than locally available rice
- Due to being an imported variety, prices and availability hugely depend on the prevailing exchange rate
- It increases significantly in size during cooking