Part of discovering Basmati rice, is understanding just a little about its journey from the foothills of the Himalayas to Canada. Its a fascinating story, a voyage of discovery. A journey that will take us half way around the world to your kitchen in Canada. Its a story I will only begin here. As we get to know each other, ask us what you would like to know more about, as we embark on discovering Basmati rice together.
Using methods handed down through generations, the farmers hand-tend their crop in the Himalayan foothills, the only place on earth where pure Basmati can be grown. Basmati is known as the “prince of rice” and means the “fragrant one” due to its aroma. Not only is the aroma of Basmati unique, so too is its flavour which has been described as “sun-baked wood and flowers”.
(We’ve found a fantastic recipe here called “Pomegranates and Princes“; another chapter in our voyage discovering Basmati rice.)
Basmati is reliant on very specific climatic conditions in the lead-up to harvest time when the cool misty nights give way to warmer Autumn days. There is only one harvest per year which runs between October and November.
When cultivating the Basmati crop, the work starts with the preparation, seed broadcasting, then saplings are removed (seen here), followed by weeding, harvesting and threshing. All of this is still done by hand as it has been traditionally.
After harvesting, the high quality paddy crop is then taken to the local agricultural market, “the Mandi”. It is sold at auction to the highest bidder. The skill of the buyer is crucial. The best buyers recognise the highest quality rice when they see it and buy it, whatever it costs.
And from the Mandi the rice is shipped to Europe and the first part of our journey discovering Basmati rice comes to an end. We are still only half way to Canada.