Both jasmine and basmati rice are aromatic varieties that make a great alternative to plain long grain white rice. You'll find these rices commonly used in a variety of Middle Eastern and Indian dishes.
Even though jasmine and basmati rice are often used interchangeably, there are some differences between these two types of rice that you should know about.
Jasmine rice is originally from Thailand and is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking. This is a long grain variety of rice that has a subtle floral aroma and a soft, sticky texture when cooked. The grains are also shorter and thicker than basmati rice.
Before cooking it's important to wash the rice to remove any dust and excess starch. Jasmine rice is traditionally cooked by steaming or using the absorption method, which simply means the it's cooked in a measured amount of water which is completely absorbed by the rice.
Basmati rice hails from the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India and Pakistan. There are some varieties grown in the U.S., but they aren't quite as good as the imported varieties. This is a long grain variety of rice commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern and Persian cooking. Basmati rice is commonly available at most grocery stores and is available in both white and brown varieties.
Basmati rice needs to be soaked for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This allows to grains to absorb water and cook evenly without breaking. Basmati rice is traditionally cooked by boiling it in water.
Updated from a post originally published August 2009.
(Image credits: Kelli Dunn)