HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

What's the best basmati rice?

Moimoi Dec 11, 2011 06:10 PM

Not sure if this is the right board, but here goes...

I was buying Tilda brand basmati, and didn't think there was a difference until I bought another brand of basmati on sale (Kohinoor). I was really surprised when I noticed a difference in flavour and texture. Interested in hearing thoughts and opinions from basmati experts. Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. luckyfatima RE: Moimoi Dec 11, 2011 07:11 PM

    Tilda is known to be an excellent brand. I usually buy India Gate. It is as nice as Tilda but the grains are even longer.

    What did you think of the Kohinoor?

    1 Reply
    1. re: luckyfatima
      Moimoi RE: luckyfatima Dec 20, 2011 08:21 PM

      I felt that Kohinoor was inferior to Tilda... it was bland tasting and didn't have the nice texture/bite that Tilda has. There are so many brands out there... I am noting India Gate and will try it... Thanks.

    2. boogiebaby RE: Moimoi Dec 21, 2011 11:01 AM

      I use Tilda or Royal. Royal is usually $2-4 cheaper so I go with that most of the time.

      1. Cheese Boy RE: Moimoi Dec 21, 2011 11:30 PM

        I've mentioned this before. Got tired of trying brand after brand of ten pound bags of basmati rice, so now I just buy 2 pound bags from Trader Joe's and the stuff is very good. Give that a try.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cheese Boy
          Moimoi RE: Cheese Boy Dec 22, 2011 08:00 PM

          I would, but they don't have Trader Joe's in Canada...

        2. huiray RE: Moimoi Dec 23, 2011 07:41 PM

          Tilda is good. Another brand that I've bought from time to time when available is Zebra, especially the really aged one. Appreciably "grainier" and, in earlier batches that I bought, noticeably more "fragrant" when cooked - but the most recent purchase of this brand didn't seem as marked in these properties...

          1 Reply
          1. re: huiray
            Sam Salmon RE: huiray Dec 23, 2011 08:53 PM

            The Indian stores here are very competitive and we have all kinds of brands on offer-but it's been a long time since I bought anything but Tilda.

            Tilda is best for consistent quality-used to buy Elephant for it's unique taste and monstrously long grains but something changed and it's been years since I tried it.

            Trader Joe's could never compete with the variety and product knowledge that ethnic grocers here have-I can see it appealing to people who have a very small comfort zone.

          2. a
            AlkieGourmand RE: Moimoi Mar 22, 2012 08:16 PM

            Tilda is really good. It's certainly better than the basmati rice used in most Indian restaurants. I can enjoy it plain and by itself (boiled with 1.5 teaspoons of salt per 1 cup of rice).

            3 Replies
            1. re: AlkieGourmand
              Rella RE: AlkieGourmand Apr 1, 2012 01:57 PM

              I use 1/3 tsp for 1 cup uncooked Tilda rice (or for that matter any white rice).
              It really doesn't matter whether I add a little salted butter or not, I always do 1/3 teaspoon to my pot.
              I will use no more than 1/2 teaspoon salt for 2 cups uncooked rice.

              1. re: Rella
                huiray RE: Rella Apr 1, 2012 02:19 PM

                Just curious, why do you use salt at all?

                1. re: huiray
                  Rella RE: huiray Apr 1, 2012 02:34 PM

                  I should qualify my answer when I said "I use" or "I ALWAYS use."

                  Until within the last year more or less, I used no salt ever since 1973, but when I got a different rice cooker, I started using salt -- and about the same time some butter or other oil/fat.

                  I probably do prefer salt, but many times, it really is not needed for me to enjoy - as when eating rice and kimchee. Not everyone would eat kimchee with basmati, but it's good to me :-))

            2. Karl S RE: Moimoi Mar 25, 2012 06:30 PM

              I've long happily relied on Swad, an aged Dehraduni basmati, that I get in 10 lb sacks at Whole Foods.

              1. EWSflash RE: Moimoi Mar 25, 2012 08:21 PM

                The best basmati rice is that which somebody else cooked perfectly for you and served to you. That said, I've never really had bad basmati.

                1. r
                  Rella RE: Moimoi Apr 1, 2012 01:59 PM

                  Since I bought a couple of bags of Tilda, white and brown, and started using them, I'll probably buy Tilda for my stock of basmati rice from now on, when I see it and can get it.

                  I bought 20 lb. bags, put them in jars and into the freezer. Use as needed.

                  The brown rice has a similar fragrance to hominy - has anyone else noticed it? (I love hominy.)

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Rella
                    huiray RE: Rella Apr 1, 2012 02:22 PM


                    Hmm, how long does a 20 lb bag last you normally? (I would run through one such bag in at most a month or so...and that's eating for one...)

                    1. re: huiray
                      kengk RE: huiray Apr 1, 2012 03:11 PM

                      1,100 calories of rice per day? That's a lot of rice.

                      1. re: kengk
                        huiray RE: kengk Apr 1, 2012 03:20 PM

                        Well, I don't count calories like you do. I also don't eat every grain of rice that is cooked. I *do* throw out rice from time to time. (Also - where do you get your figures from?)

                        I suppose that "cooking period" may also vary from time to time. Basmati rice also has a higher glycemic index over shorter-grain (or glutinous) rice, for those who are concerned with that...

                        p.s. My native cuisine propensities is one where rice is the staple...

                        1. re: huiray
                          kengk RE: huiray Apr 1, 2012 03:28 PM

                          I just thought, wow, that's a lot of rice. Googled the calories per pound of rice and did the math out of curiosity. The bean counter in me.

                          1. re: kengk
                            huiray RE: kengk Apr 1, 2012 03:48 PM

                            Well, suppose you did the math for potatoes or whatever the carbohydrate it is as your staple? Let's see *those* figures - and that includes whatever snacks and chips and bread you may eat DAILY. (I don't eat bread, for example; and potatoes very rarely)
                            How about your pasta intake?

                            How many sodas do you drink a day? (I seldom drink any)
                            How much sugar or sugar equivalents do you consume a day? (My dessert or toffee or whatever intake is negligible) (I do not have a sweet tooth)
                            How much cereal do you eat every morning, or oats or whatever carb you have? (I don't eat cereal etc)
                            How many spoonfuls of sugar or how much milk or cream do you put into your coffee? (I take my coffee black)
                            Etc etc etc...

                            I am awaiting your response.

                            1. re: huiray
                              kengk RE: huiray Apr 1, 2012 04:48 PM

                              Was not trying to insinuate that you ate more than you should or that your diet was in any way not appropriate for you. Again, just thought that was a lot of rice for one person to eat.

                              FWIW, I eat about 1,500 calories per day and yes, I have to count them fairly closely or my pants won't button. I'm a 52 year old male who is about 6' 2" tall, to try and anticipate your next question.

                              1. re: kengk
                                huiray RE: kengk Apr 1, 2012 05:29 PM

                                Then why are you so taken with the caloric value of what you seem to regard as an astronomical amount of rice consumption? Is it because you barely eat any rice yourself and can't comprehend that rice is a staple for millions and millions of folks?

                                You still have not answered my questions. What are the breakdown for the figures - 1) for you; and 2) for an average potato/bread/sugar-eating Western person?

                                1. re: huiray
                                  knfmonk RE: huiray May 27, 2014 11:56 AM

                                  I think the issue is that rice has a relatively low caloric content.

                                  I eat what is considered 2 servings of rice in a typical sitting - and that comes to about 280 calories, and that is a LOT of rice.

                                  Doing the maths, the reason why he is questioning you is that if you are eating 1100 calories of rice, you are eating enough rice to feed 10 people normal people EVERY DAY.

                                  It isn't just about the calories, it is the volume he is questioning. You would have to eat far less bread/potatoes/sugar to get to 1100 cal.

                                  1. re: knfmonk
                                    Chowrin RE: knfmonk May 28, 2014 09:44 AM

                                    1 cup (uncooked) of rice is 600 calories. That comes out to about 3 cups cooked. That's a lot to eat at once, but not completely crazy.

                      2. re: huiray
                        Rella RE: huiray Apr 1, 2012 03:22 PM

                        I've never really tested how long a bag would last as I have always kept a few types of rice - many different long and short grains, organic and inorganic, brown and white, different countries, and new ones I've picked up because it looked interesting.

                        Tilda is the last one I picked up that looked interesting. I still have many more around, even basmati. But from now on, Tilda will be my main choice for most basmati.

                    2. p
                      partner_1 RE: Moimoi Apr 30, 2012 11:23 AM

                      Zebra Bananaspati from Pakistan (with the red tags) is the best rice I ever ate. It's really aged and also DNA tested for purity :) Very tasty with extra long kernel.
                      Actually it is certified by the Reading Scientific Services Ltd, UK, an institute that developed a technology for identifying audulteration in basmati.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: partner_1
                        huiray RE: partner_1 Apr 30, 2012 11:39 AM

                        What's "Zebra BANANASPATI" (sic) rice?

                        Do you mean this one instead? http://zebrabasmatirice.com/product/

                        1. re: huiray
                          partner_1 RE: huiray May 7, 2012 04:49 PM


                          1. re: huiray
                            fezmarie73 RE: huiray Aug 24, 2012 10:41 AM

                            Hmm.. I'm curious about that, too.. partner_1, was there some mention of banaspati or vanaspati on the rice package? I know that vanaspati ghee is like, well, like a hydrogenated vegetable oil form of ghee. I have never heard it in reference to rice, though.

                            1. re: fezmarie73
                              ursy_ten RE: fezmarie73 Dec 24, 2012 12:41 AM

                              I'm wondering if this was something like an autocorrect error.

                        2. j
                          jon44 RE: Moimoi Jul 16, 2012 11:10 AM

                          Am I unique in having a problem with Tilda that I always find little pieces of translucent plastic in with the rice? (I assume it comes from the low-grade plastic used at the opening.)

                          I'm planning on trying one of the other brands mentioned just to try to avoid this...

                          1. q
                            qatbird RE: Moimoi Sep 22, 2012 08:12 PM

                            Pari Basmati Rice is exceptional. The texture, scent and flavour as well as the length of the grains is just amazing. I have trouble finding it, but I am always searching and when I find it I stock up.

                            1. j
                              Jas001 RE: Moimoi Nov 17, 2012 07:07 PM

                              I have tried almost all brands on rice & I considered myself now expert in it. (use 1 cup rice with 1.75 cup water, make sure to soak for 1/2 hour)

                              Longest & overall best rice are Zafarani "Reserve" Rice, they are usually $1-$2 more and not found is all stores. I have seen Store sell anywhere from $14.99-$18.99 for 10lbs.

                              2nd one is Dawaat.
                              Tilda is just above average.
                              India Gate, Royal, Kohinoor are just average.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Jas001
                                Jas001 RE: Jas001 Nov 24, 2012 07:45 PM

                                Just bought another Dawaat bag, it was of average qty. so I will not recommend anymore. Stick with Zafarani.

                                Also Markfed Rice is also very good, but hard to find.

                                1. re: Jas001
                                  luckyfatima RE: Jas001 Nov 25, 2012 05:56 AM

                                  When you finish your Daawat bag, can you try out Qilla Excel and report back, if you would be so kind?

                                  1. re: luckyfatima
                                    Sam Salmon RE: luckyfatima Nov 26, 2012 09:10 PM

                                    Never had much luck with Qilla here in BC-no idea if it's Excel sold here or not but overall Qilla is a dirty unremarkable rice.

                                    1. re: Sam Salmon
                                      Jas001 RE: Sam Salmon Nov 27, 2012 10:04 AM

                                      same here in BC, I had tried Qilla, it was OK. Haven't tried Excel yet.

                              2. j
                                Jas001 RE: Moimoi Nov 19, 2012 01:35 AM

                                One more, I remember....
                                Very surprise discovery.
                                I tried Organic Basmati Rice from Walmart. It was similar to Zafarani "Reserve" Rice. But keep in mind you do have to pay at least twice. and then you are also getting organic.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Jas001
                                  luckyfatima RE: Jas001 Nov 19, 2012 06:28 AM

                                  I bought a bag of Zafarani Reserve on a friend's recommendation, but still found India Gate to be superior. I think Tilda hasn't had the same quality in the past few years, so I don't buy that anymore. I just bought a bag of Qilla Excel which I have also heard is very good and will report back when I try it. I have also heard Dawat was good, another one on my list of to-try. I keep returning to India Gate, though. It's pale white, lengthens beautifully, and has a nice fragrance, although the fragrance isn't as nice as what Tilda's used to be.

                                  1. re: luckyfatima
                                    Jas001 RE: luckyfatima Nov 19, 2012 10:54 PM

                                    keep in mind Zafarani has two types on Rice one regular and one it says "Reserve", don't go with regular.

                                    1. re: Jas001
                                      Rich102 RE: Jas001 Dec 15, 2012 07:11 PM

                                      We've bought several different basmatis, but I don't have the name of the one we're currently using. I usually ask someone at the Indian store what they recommend. Two that we've bought that I still have bags from are Zafrani and Reserve (although the "Reserve" has no indication that it is Zafrani Reserve). Both have the name of Dashaka, from Houston TX (presumably the importer), on the bags. I remember the Zafrani as being good, but whatever we're using now is also good-- actually neither my wife nor I notice a lot of difference among the various brands we've had.

                                      Lately I've been eating Trader Joe's brown basmati, which is supposedly from India, and like it. It's not quite as long of grain as some of the white basmatis, but it has a slightly more pronounced aroma.

                                      1. re: Rich102
                                        Jas001 RE: Rich102 Dec 16, 2012 04:17 PM

                                        Just an quick update Guys, their seems to be "FAKE" Zafarani Reserve rice with attractive & color package. Please DO NOT BUY that one, it has regular rice with premium price.

                                2. p
                                  Puffin3 RE: Moimoi Nov 19, 2012 05:33 AM

                                  I like Nessa Indian Basmati rice. Question: I have a small rice cooker. I soak and rinse the rice until no milky water shows up. Is that necessary? Also someone mentioned using a bit of salt. Never done that. Does it make a difference in taste/texture?

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Puffin3
                                    Sam Salmon RE: Puffin3 Nov 19, 2012 08:53 PM

                                    I never soak and have never used salt and my Basmati is perfect every time.

                                    1. re: Sam Salmon
                                      Puffin3 RE: Sam Salmon Nov 20, 2012 06:06 AM

                                      So what is the 'milky water? Someone told me it was a powder added to stop the rice from sticking. I saw a Japanese sushi chef soak and rinse rice.

                                      1. re: Puffin3
                                        Jas001 RE: Puffin3 Nov 20, 2012 10:08 AM

                                        It is better to rinse the rich till the water is clear & free of starch before cooking. But I heard rinsing does remove some vitamins as well in the process.

                                        1. re: Puffin3
                                          Cheese Boy RE: Puffin3 Nov 20, 2012 11:35 PM

                                          The US uses food grade diatomaceous earth in a lot of its grain storage.

                                          1. re: Cheese Boy
                                            Puffin3 RE: Cheese Boy Nov 21, 2012 11:35 AM

                                            Just talked with a guy who makes his own saki. He said he uses all the water he gets after rinsing rice. This is added to rice/raisins/sugar/yeast. I tried it once. YUCK!!!!!

                                            1. re: Puffin3
                                              Cheese Boy RE: Puffin3 Nov 21, 2012 02:49 PM

                                              There are many different "types" of sake depending on their origin.
                                              I personally prefer a Japanese clear sake that is served warm. I'm not sure about your friend's sake, but he's not too far off with his technique ... http://www.grapestomper.com/recsake.html

                                    2. a
                                      ahardy RE: Moimoi Dec 14, 2012 12:34 PM

                                      Personally I have stopped buying basmati rice because no matter what brand I bought I got a strong burlap bag smell that would not go away, does anyone know why?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: ahardy
                                        Sam Salmon RE: ahardy Dec 15, 2012 11:34 AM

                                        I think you're misidentifying the smell-all Basmati smells 'grassy'-but 'burlap bag' is something I have never encountered in decades of cooking & eating the stuff.

                                        1. re: Sam Salmon
                                          ahardy RE: Sam Salmon Dec 15, 2012 01:49 PM

                                          Sam Salmon I do know the difference. The last bag I bought I even stored in spices and left the container open to diminish the smell. I' sad to say that was the last bag I bought and have not bought any more since.

                                          1. re: Sam Salmon
                                            Chowrin RE: Sam Salmon Dec 24, 2012 09:38 PM

                                            hmm... costco and royal always seem to smell like popcorn to me.

                                        2. j
                                          Jas001 RE: Moimoi Dec 16, 2012 04:20 PM

                                          Here is the real bag, do not buy colorful one, that is 100% fake.

                                          1. j
                                            Jas001 RE: Moimoi Dec 16, 2012 04:32 PM

                                            HERE IS A FAKE Zafarani Reserve Rice, please let someone in the company know about it.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Jas001
                                              Jas001 RE: Jas001 Dec 24, 2012 08:49 PM

                                              I checked with Importer company, they claim started using new color bag. I told him straight that these are not same qty rice as the old in old bag. How I know, I still have some left from old bag & big difference.

                                              I recommend stick with Old bag or don't pay for new bag average qty rice. You will be paying premium price for no reason.

                                            2. a
                                              amirtaghavy RE: Moimoi Sep 30, 2013 03:35 PM

                                              I have tried many brands of basmati rice from Pari and Tilda to Zafarani and Koohinoor, etc...

                                              I am fond of long-grain white rice and in general have been able to find my joy in all of the brands I have tried... more or less....

                                              That said... eversice I have tried "Lal Qilla".... it has been the hardest thing to switch to anything else....

                                              trust me.... try it once and you will end up a lal qilla admirer like me!

                                              1. j
                                                Jas001 RE: Moimoi Oct 26, 2013 06:38 AM

                                                I finally tried "Qilla excel", it was very close to original Zafarani Reserve.

                                                Tilda & Kohinoor are more about advertising then taste. Don't go with the Hype.

                                                1. ckshen RE: Moimoi Mar 17, 2014 12:38 PM

                                                  are there any organic brown basmati rice available in bulk? I have been eating Lundberg CA organic brown basmati but have found the texture and fragrance lacking.

                                                  1. a
                                                    aerobie RE: Moimoi Jul 3, 2014 06:44 PM

                                                    I'm going to second Amirtaghavy in every word written - Lal Qilla rice (which is different than Qilla or Golden Qilla, or Qilla Excel) is my most favorite rice although it has become very difficult to find locally. Thanks all for sharing on this thread! If anyone knows what has caused the shortage of Lal Qilla rice or if/when it will become more easily available I would love to know...

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: aerobie
                                                      vineethvs2210 RE: aerobie Jul 4, 2014 09:39 PM

                                                      here you go mate , the best basmati in the world, laila is not too great if looking for aroma but good for everyday use, lal qilla is far more superior than any of these brands,


                                                      1. re: vineethvs2210
                                                        Puffin3 RE: vineethvs2210 Jul 10, 2014 10:26 AM

                                                        Like many things it's usually the hardest to find, the most expensive.

                                                    Show Hidden Posts