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Nutritional And Functional Benefits Of Traditional Rice Varieties

Rice as A Staple

Dating back to ancient and decades to till now, rice is our staple food. The farmers in Asia grew the paddy in fields and it was converted to parboiled rice in their own yards which were either hand pounded or milled and shipped to middlemen and ultimately to the royal families and affluent classes.

As we started evolving in the name of civilisation and modernisation, unfortunately, people have narrowed their choices to a handful of varieties and consume them polished devoid of fibre and minerals. 

Traditional Rice- A wholesome Nutrition

The greater the varieties of rice you eat the less you are likely to experience micro-nutrient deficiencies. The functional properties of anthocyanins in red and black traditional rice varieties makes it an anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic rich source.

Apart from fulfilling our need for varied taste, these traditional rice varieties help us supplement with a range of nutritional elements. Each of these kinds of traditional rice has their unique acquired taste profile, and often, depending on the taste preferences people cling to their personal favorites.

Eat Local’s – Top picks of traditional varieties

Now let’s take a quick peek on few of the best picks available at Eat local that will not just satisfy your hunger but nourish you and your family with the right nutrients.

Mappillai Samba/Bridegroom Rice

Interesting Trivia

Mappillai Samba is one of the popular traditional rice varieties grown in Tamil Nadu. The origin of its name can be found in Tamil folklore which has been mentioned that traditionally, on a groom's wedding day, he was asked to lift a heavy rock as a show-off his valiance. To help boost strength and energy, this rice was cooked and fed to the groom.

Nutritional facts:

Mapillai Samba has a distinct starchy and corny flavor, with an acquired taste. Rich in magnesium, helps maintain steady heart rate and supports immune system.

An excellent source of carbohydrates, fuel for our central nervous system and provides energy to the muscles. It is rich in fibre content that aids in digestion. Prevents gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhoea, and gastritis.

It is a good source of iron and Zinc and promotes haemoglobin in our body, nourishes and strengthens the veins, muscles, nerves, and blood.

The fibre in parboiled mapillai samba rice aids in digestion of carbohydrate at a slower rate when compared to processed grains this includes even white rice. Which implies that there is a more controlled release of sugar into the bloodstream and it has a lower glycaemic index (GI) compared to other grains. That’s why this rice types are highly recommended for diabetics.

Recipes using Mappillai Samba rice that you can cook with:

  • Plain rice
  • Idli
  • Dhosa
  • Pongal

Kavuni Arisi/Black Rice/ Forbidden Rice

Interesting Trivia

Karupu Kavuni aka Black rice is often called forbidden rice because, in Ancient China, black rice was reserved for the kings and was forbidden from the consumption by common people.

Nutritional Facts

Black rice is a good source of phytonutrients, which works as a natural detoxifier and removes disease causing radicals from the body.

The outermost layer of the black rice grain contains highest amounts of an antioxidant called anthocyanin which helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and helps improve brain function and reduce inflammation.

Parboiled Kavuni Rice is an excellent source of soluble fibre. It helps to lower the levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol in the blood. The oil found in this rice helps lower harmful cholesterol levels and stabilise blood pressure, whilst raising the levels of 'healthy' HDL cholesterol.

Recipes using Kavuni rice that you can cook with:

  • Idli
  • Dhosa
  • Puttu
  • Plain rice
  • Risotto
  • Dessert

Kuda vazhai

Interesting Trivia

Kudavazhai is considered to have been derived from two Tamil words: Kudal – Intestine and Vazha – revival or to live. In other words, this rice variety helps in keeping the intestines healthy by preventing intestinal ailments.

Nutritional Facts

Kudavazhai is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and rich minerals that strengthens muscles, keeps diabetics in control, boosts the immune system. The rich fibre present in Kudavazhai rice improves digestion, cures constipation, and cleans the toxic present in intestine.

Recipes using Kuda vazhai that you can cook with:

  • Dosa
  • Pancakes
  • Plain rice
  • Idly
  • Upma
  • Pongal
  • Porridge

Kichili Samba

Interesting Trivia

Enticed by its taste and flavour, this rice was eaten by aristocrats and affluent class in the ancient days. It is a mother DNA of all IR varieties of rice.

Nutritional Facts

Has a low Glycaemic Index of 50, hence regular eating is most recommended for diabetics.

Recipes using Kichili Samba that you can cook with:

  • Plain rice
  • Briyani
  • Porridge

Kaatu Yaanam:

Interesting Trivia

Kattuyaanam rice / Red rice is a traditional variety of rice. As the name suggests, these paddies outgrow in a manner that even an elephant can be hidden behind or in-between.  

Nutritional Facts

This rice promotes digestive System and normalises bowel movement. Besides, they are popularly known as “enemy of diabetes.” It helps with amino acid digestion and utilisation and plays a vital role in healthy and strong bone formation. Besides, the anthocyanins content in kaatuyanam arisi delays aging and wrinkles, freckles, pigmentation, and other skin related issues.

Recipes using Kaatu Yaanam rice that you can cook with:

  • Dhosa
  • Briyani
  • Porridge
  • Idli

Thooya Malli

Interesting Trivia

As the name explains Thooya(Pure) Malli(jasmine), the rice resembles the bud of jasmine flower. Its distinctive flavor makes it popular among rice consumers as their favourite pick.

Nutritional Facts

These varieties not just aid in digestion but are most recommended for a healthy and active nervous system. Thooya Malli helps in strengthening the internal organs thereby delaying the ageing of it. On regular consumption, they cure mouth ulcers and helps reduce diabetes.

Parboiled Thooyamalli Rice is an excellent source of soluble fibre. It helps to lower the levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol in the blood whilst raising the levels of 'healthy' HDL cholesterol.

Recipes using Thooya Malli rice that you can cook with:

  • Dhosa
  • Briyani
  • Plain rice
  • variety rice
  • Idli

Go for organic traditional rice varieties for a healthy mind and body!

Opting traditional rice as your everyday meal is a way better option. Its nutritional superiority makes it a much healthier and beneficial option, and it can even help with weight loss. Whole grains are known to be more beneficial to health in general, and the abundance of minerals in these traditional rice varieties can help in keeping your body healthy and fully functional.


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