Thailand is the second largest rice exporting country in the world. But much of the rice stays in the country, as well, since rice is so central to Thai life. When we say we want to eat, we say ‘Kin Kao’ which literally translates to ‘eat rice’! It is eaten morning, day and night in many different dishes and variations.
A few of the most common types of rice eaten here in Thailand are:
Thai Jasmine Rice (Hom Mali or Thai Fragrant rice), is the most common type and the main staple of the Thai diet. When fresh, the uncooked grains have a pleasant jasmine aroma, which gets even stronger as it cooks.
Glutinous/Sticky Rice (Khao Neow), is easily noticed by it’s milky, opaque coloring and shorter grains. The combination of starches in this rice makes it sticky and it is often eaten by hand with certain foods, especially Isaan food, from the Northeastern part of Thailand.
Brown Rice/Brown Sticky Rice (Khao Dum, or Khao Neow Dum) is actually a deep reddish-black color and has a slightly crunchy texture, due to the bran layer of the rice being left intact (usually ‘polished’ off when processing white rice). This type of rice is higher in fiber. There are both regular and sticky rice versions.
Colored Rice can often be seen in grocery stores in Thailand in a variety of quite vibrant colors- green, yellow and blue! This type is traditionally used in Thai desserts because it can be used without additional food coloring during cooking and also can add bright and colorful vibe to the desserts.
Green rice uses pandan (bai toey) for color and fragrance. Many Thai desserts have this hued rice included, such as mango and sticky rice, thai rice cakes and sticky rice and custard (sangkaya).
The blue rice gets it’s beautiful hue from Anchan flowers (dok anchan). This flower is known as the Butterfly Pea Flower.
Yellow rice is also prevalent. You can often see these different colors of rice presented together as sticky rice topped with sweetened coconut milk.
With all these choices, taste and great looks, one may never get sick of eating rice!