Not Just Basmati, Cook Biryani With These 6 Varieties Of Rice

Why does biryani taste so delicious? There are many answers to this question, but one of them is the variety of rice and the method of cooking grains that offer biryani its flavour, texture, and foundation. In most cooking videos, you must have observed that chefs suggest using basmati, long-grain rice, for preparing biryani. It is fluffy and non-sticky. But traditional recipes of biryani use a variety of rice grains. 

Video Credit: Chef Ranveer Brar/ YouTube

According to reports, India grows thousands of varieties of rice suitable according to the ecosystem and soil quality in the country. Some are long grain, while others are short grain rice, but each has a speciality and adds a unique texture to the dish. Here are some popular varieties of rice grain, other than basmati, that are used to make different types of biryani in India.

Sona Masoori

Sona masuri is a golden brown medium-grain rice that is grown in parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana. It has a distinct aroma that heightens the flavours and taste of kalyani biryani. Many vendors use it to make Hyderabadi dum biryani and chicken biryani. It has a nutty flavour that becomes stronger after the grains are cooked, which is why it is also the star ingredient in preparing Pongal dishes and coconut rice. 


Ully or bean rice has short grains and brown colour. They almost look like wheat grains but are not considered premium-quality rice. It is flavourful and inexpensive. These grains are used to make vegetable biryani in many parts of the country to mask the flavours of other strong ingredients. It is also widely used to make Burmese-style biryani.

Ambemohar Rice

Grown in various parts of Maharashtra, ambemohar rice is not only fragrant but also delicate. It adds a unique texture to your dishes. Since it is grown in a handful of regions, it is considered rare and high-quality rice. It can be used as a replacement for basmati to cook any variety of biryani. It is mostly used to prepare bhatachi pej, a thick soupy dish of milk and rice, dosa, and idli. Maratha-style biryani is also cooked with this rice variety at times.

Seeraga Samba Rice

Seeraga samba is a variety of rice grown in Tamil Nadu and a few parts of Sri Lanka. It has small grains and contains more starch. It has a fluffy texture and adds more calories to any dish. It is used to cook pulao, but is most commonly added to Punjabi biryani and chicken biryani in Tamil Nadu. Many use it to cook the vegetarian version of Thalapakatti Dindigul biryani. In many restaurants in India, it is used to make jeera rice and steamed rice to pair with chicken and other meat-based curries.

Patna Rice

As the name suggests, Patna rice is grown in regions of Bihar. It is a long-grain variety of rice that is a staple in the state. It has mild flavours and looks quite similar to basmati rice. With a sweet note, it balances spicy flavours in a dish. Therefore, it is added to traditional Moradabadi biryani dishes made in the state to create a balanced dish. It is also used to cook rice pudding, and is often paired with dal and other curries.

Kaima Rice

Kaima rice grains have rich and aromatic flavours. It is popularly used in Kerala cuisine and to prepare Thalassery biryan, which is a type of Malabar biryani. Its grains have the capacity to absorb the aroma and flavours of spices, making a dish truly enriching and tasty. Other dishes that are cooked using this variety include nei choru, kinnathappam, and ghee rice.

There are other varieties of rice that are used for cooking biryani, depending on their availability in a particular region of India. This includes ponni rice, seeraga samba rice, gobindo bhog rice, kalijira rice, and jasmine rice.