Reviving The Radhatilak Rice From The Indigenous Fields Of West Bengal
Image Credit: Rice | Image Credit:

Bengal was once considered a hub of rice cultivation, and the land once had 500 different varieties of paddy, namely Jalkamini, Jamaishal, Kabirajshal, Jhingashal, Altapati, Rupshal, Sitashal, Dnarshal, Rabanshal, Bormasa, Roktoshali, Khejurchhori, Tin Sotin, and Fulmoti. 

These paddies were sown by farmers, which delighted their hearts and kept their stomachs full for a longer time. With time, the farmer looked for those paddy varieties that could produce a larger yield within a short period of time, thus overlooking the indigenous ones. The inhabitants today are not aware of the wide range of paddy varieties that were once cultivated in the fields of Bengal. 

However, now, owing to the change in lifestyle and the overuse of hybrids and chemicals, doctors are suggesting the inclusion of important nutrients in our daily diet. This has made way for chemical-free organically harvested paddy varieties, one of which is Radhatilak rice

Reportedly, Radhatilak rice attracts fewer pests and diseases. Being packed with nutrients, its demand has spiked in recent times. Besides, the good market price has motivated the farmers to cultivate even more. The Agricultural Department of West Bengal is encouraging the Bengal farmers to cultivate indigenous paddy varieties like the heritage Radhatilak, besides the traditional ‘amon’ rice. The department is supplying the farmers with the required seeds.   

The Agriculture Department of West Bengal states that more than 5 lakh hectares of agricultural land in West Bengal are used to cultivate several indigenous rice varieties. For instance, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar are farming Kalonunia and Maalshira, while Uttar Dinajpur is dealing with Tulaipanji and Kataribhog. 

Districts like Bardhaman, Bankura, Birbhum, and Hooghly are cultivating Gobindobhog, Badshabhog, and Radhatilak, whereas rice varieties like Hogla, Taalmugur, Dudheshwar, Keralasundari, and Bahurupi are being reared in the North and South 24 Parganas.   

Radha-Tilak rice, in particular, is a noteworthy variety. Unpolished and free from chemicals and pesticides, it is characterized by its short grains, aromatic essence, and rich mineral content. Radha-Tilak is steeped in folklore, linked to the timeless tales of Lord Krishna and Radha, believed to be Radha's preferred grain. Sourced directly from South Bengal's traditional, pesticide-free farming, this parboiled rice variety carries with it a legacy of authentic taste and purity. 

Radhatilak rice is organically cultivated, having aromatic, tiny grains that are loaded with minerals and are easily digestible. Also known as ‘atap’ rice, they are packed with protein, zinc, vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-3, carbohydrates, riboflavin, niacin, and calories. This rice can be used to make Bengali dishes like khichuri, payesh, and pulao. Besides, rice contributes to a whole lot of health benefits. Take a look at some of them: 

  • Diabetic Friendly  

Radhatilak rice is loaded with protein, which plays a crucial role in controlling diabetes levels by influencing various aspects of glucose metabolism. One of the key mechanisms involves insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels. 

Additionally, proteins help stabilise blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates when consumed together, thus preventing rapid spikes in glucose levels. Furthermore, proteins promote satiety and reduce cravings for high-sugar and high-carbohydrate foods, helping individuals with diabetes manage their weight and maintain stable blood sugar levels.   

  • Produces Energy  

Carbohydrates in Radhatilak rice are a primary source of energy for the human body. When consumed, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose through the process of digestion. Glucose is a simple sugar that can be readily absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Once in the bloodstream, glucose is transported to cells throughout the body, where it serves as a fuel source. Cells can either use glucose immediately for energy or store it in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles for later use.   

  • Immunity Builder  

The presence of zinc serves as a crucial immunity builder. It supports the production and function of immune cells, including white blood cells that defend the body against infections. Furthermore, zinc is involved in the production of antibodies, which are proteins that recognise and neutralise harmful pathogens like bacteria and viruses. 

It also assists in maintaining the integrity of the body's natural barriers, such as the skin and mucous membranes, which act as the first line of defense against invading microorganisms. Additionally, zinc is essential for wound healing, and it contributes to the overall health of the skin and tissues.