Joha rice (Oryza sativa) is a short-grained rice belonging to a distinct class of aromatic rice. Known for its sweet-scented aroma and taste, the rice is indeed a special heirloom grain of Northeast India. This aromatic rice was considered regal back in the old days. It is so popular that when sold in local markets, it would easily go out of stock. People so loved its taste. Its popularity increased the price and reputation of the rice. The challenge though is in growing it, as it prone to diseases. Only farmers with large land holdings tend to grow Joha in one part of their land. Originally from Assam, this rice is also cultivated by the farmers of Garo hills in Meghalaya. The fresh ambiance and ideal weather conditions of Garo hills contributes to the exquisiteness of this rice. Cultivation of Joha rice is done using traditional methods of farming. Even though this rice is particularly hard to grow, as it has low resistance to diseases, the farmers continue to practice traditional methods of cultivation.
What Makes Joha Rice so Special?
Joha rice is only grown in the Northeast region of India. A special class of scented rice, it is completely different from the famous Basmati rice. It has a delicate texture and rich in anti-oxidant compounds. According to research done at Assam Down Town University, when the constituents of Joha rice were extracted with ethanol, it was found to contain proteins, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, carbohydrates and volatile oils. The rice has high level of acetyl and pyrroline, which gives it the sweet aroma. It also has more multivitamins than any other variety of rice.
Health Benefits of Joha Rice:
- Because of the polyphenolic and flavonoids constituent of this rice, it has high anti-oxidant properties. It helps neutralize free radicals and fight against aging and many diseases.
- It contains essential amino acids or proteins that act as an excellent substitute and plant-based protein for vegetarians or vegans.
- Starch content of Joha rice is high, which makes it rich in carbohydrates. The carbohydrates fuels your brain and body with energy and heat.
- The flavonoids content of this rice have a wide range of pharmacological benefits and protect against diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation and allergy. It is also said that intake of food rich in flavonoid contents reduces the risk of certain cancers such as angiogenesis and cell proliferation activities.
- It also contains high potency of volatile oil components which gives the rice its multivitamin properties.
Joha rice is not only a healthy rice but it is used for making delicious delicacies. During auspicious occasions, the local people usually make tasteful foods using Joha rice, like kheer, pulao, frumenty and arancini. If you pass a house cooking Joha rice, you will find out just by the whiff of this aromatic rice, as it leaves a lingering trail of popcorn like scent.
The Use of this aromatic rice dates back to the Ramayana. According to the 14th century version of the Assamese Ramayana, Ravana used Khorika Joha as one of the delicious meals used to entice his brother Kumbhakarna to wake up from the infamous deep slumber. “
Recipe for Making Sweet Frumenty With Joha Rice:
- Pre-heat a vessel and add 2 cups of stock. The stock can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as per your choices.
- Add one cup of washed Joha rice. Let it absorb and simmer for 15 minutes.
- After it is cooked add spices of your choices, like pepper or cumin. A few raisins add to the taste.
- Mix some cream to 2 beaten eggs and mix well. Add this mixture to the cooked rice.
- Warm it in on low flame till you get the right soft consistency and serve.
During Medieval times Frumenty was a popular dish of Western Europeans and it used wheat. However, instead of using wheat, Joha rice can also be used, to elevate the taste of Frumenty. A more innovative use of such an ancient recipe! Try it out and let us know how it went.
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