Demystifying Thai Restaurants: White Jasmine Rice vs. Brown Basmati for Curry and Pad Thai

When it comes to Thai cuisine, the type of rice used can significantly impact the overall taste and texture of the dish. Two popular types of rice often associated with Thai food are white jasmine rice and brown basmati rice. However, there seems to be some confusion about which type of rice is traditionally used in Thai restaurants for dishes like curry and pad thai. This article aims to demystify this topic and provide a clear understanding of the role of these two types of rice in Thai cuisine.

What is the Traditional Rice Used in Thai Cuisine?

Traditionally, Thai cuisine primarily uses white jasmine rice. Known as ‘Khao Hom Mali’ in Thailand, jasmine rice is a long-grain variety of rice that has a subtle floral aroma and a soft, sticky texture when cooked. It is the rice of choice for most Thai dishes and is particularly well-suited to accompany Thai curries or to be used in stir-fries like pad thai.

What About Brown Basmati Rice?

Brown basmati rice, on the other hand, is not traditionally used in Thai cuisine. Basmati rice originates from the Indian subcontinent and is more commonly used in Indian and Pakistani dishes. It has a unique, nutty flavor and a less sticky texture compared to jasmine rice. While it can be used as a healthier alternative to white rice due to its higher fiber content, it is not typically used in Thai restaurants for traditional Thai dishes.

Why is Jasmine Rice Preferred for Thai Dishes?

  • Jasmine rice’s soft, sticky texture makes it perfect for soaking up the rich flavors of Thai curries and sauces.

  • Its subtle floral aroma complements the complex flavors of Thai cuisine.

  • Traditionally, Thai people prefer white rice over brown rice. The preference is so strong that the term for ‘to eat’ in Thai is ‘kin khao’, which literally translates to ‘eat rice’.

Can Brown Basmati Rice be Used in Thai Dishes?

While brown basmati rice is not traditionally used in Thai cuisine, it can certainly be used as a substitute if preferred. It may alter the texture and flavor of the dish slightly, but it can provide a unique twist to traditional Thai dishes. It’s also a great option for those looking for a healthier alternative, as brown basmati rice is higher in fiber and nutrients compared to white jasmine rice.

In conclusion, while white jasmine rice is the traditional choice for Thai dishes like curry and pad thai, brown basmati rice can be used as a substitute if desired. The choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and dietary needs.