A rice variety that can be eaten without cooking

A rice variety that can be eaten without cooking New Delhi: At a time when India is pushing
hard to save energy, scientists in Orissa are doing their bit
by popularising a rice variety that can be eaten without being

Aghonibora, a new rice variety being developed at the
Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), Cuttack, requires only
half-an-hour soaking in water to render it fit to be eaten.

The `komal saul` or soft rice variety, which was obtained
originally from Assam`s Titabar Rice Research Station, has
very low amylose content -- about 4.5 per cent.
Other rice varieties have up to 20-25 per cent of amylose
content that is responsible for hardness of the grains, CRRI
scientists said.

"As this rice contains very less amount of amylose, it
does not require any boiling. It can be eaten straightaway
after just half-an-hour of soaking in water. If the water is
lukewarm, it will be prepared within 15-20 minutes," said
Srigopal Sharma, Head of Division of Biochemistry, Plant
Physiology and Environmental Sciences at CRRI.
Significantly, the rice variety shows no major change in
productivity or taste, he said.

"We have done extensive research on the rice variety at
the CRRI farm at Cuttack to find out whether it retains the
`soak and eat` characteristic in the hot and humid climate
of Orissa," Sharma said.

"The results were positive indicating that it could be
promoted in parts of India where parboiled rice is consumed.

"In the preliminary testing, the rice variety took
between 140 and 145 days to mature, measured 90 cm in height
and yielded about four to five tonnes per hectare of land,"
said Sharma, who spearheaded the research at CRRI.

The scientist said the variety was one of the major
achievements in the field of rice research and added that if
they could manage to promote the rice across the country, it
would help save fuel and consequently the environment as well.

"Promotion of such rice would save fuel, time, and above
all it would help maintain a cleaner environment. It would be
very useful for the poor in general, who find it difficult to
afford firewood, coal or cooking gas," he said.