Unlocking the Goodness of Grains Part 2: Rice Day 3: Unlocking the Goodness of Grains Part 2: Rice

Unlocking the Goodness of Grains Part 2: Rice

The grain we’re exploring today is a major staple of our diet in India. Whether you go to the North, South, East, or West, you will find diverse ways of cooking and preparing this super grain. Say hello to rice!


Did you know that rice, a humble cereal crop, is a favorite food for more than half of the world's people? This incredible grain, believed to have its roots in India, holds a special place in our hearts and plates.

Beyond its energy-boosting properties, rice packs a punch with B complex vitamins, copper, fiber, iron, selenium, magnesium, and phosphorus, depending on the type you choose.

How Many Types of Rice Are There?


There are 40,000 kinds of rice in the world. India is home to 6,000 varieties!


The production of wheat and rice doubled due to Government initiatives during India’s Green Revolution. Unfortunately, in this bargain, the production of other crops like indigenous rice and millets declined.

Apart from the more popular white rice, rice is found in many colors – purple, red, black, brown etc. Colored rice is said to have more nutritive value compared to white rice.

White rice

Brown rice

Red and black rice

Polished rice with the hull, bran, and germ removed.

Whole grain rice with just the outer hull removed.

Similar to brown rice

Lower in fiber and nutrients compared to brown and red rice.

Higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to white rice.

Rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins.

Soft texture, cooks fastest among the rice

Nutty flavor, takes longer to cook

Nutty flavor and chewy texture, takes longer to cook


Let’s see how we can unlock the delicious and heartening world of rice for our little ones

Introducing Rice to Babies

In Indian tradition, rice is considered to be auspicious and sacred. To some, it’s symbolic of abundance and prosperity. Rice is even part of religious ceremonies and weddings of certain communities. That’s why, many parents offer rice as one of the first foods.

You can also introduce rice to your baby 6 months onwards. And why not go beyond white rice and explore other varieties of rice? Here’s a quick look at the local/regional varieties of rice grown in India:

Regionally grown WHITE rice

Regionally grown COLORED rice

  • Basmati
  • Joha
  • Jyothi
  • Navara
  • Ponni
  • Pusa
  • Sona Masuri
  • Jaya
  • Kalajiri (aromatic)
  • Boli
  • Palakkad Matta
  • Himalayan red rice 
  • Matta rice
  • Assam red rice
  • Kairali
  • Jyothy 
  • Bhadra 
  • Asha
  • Rakthashali 
  • Red Kavuni 
  • Kaivara Samba 
  • Mappillai Samba
  • Kuruvi Kar
  • Poongar


Did you know

Native or locally grown rice is known as indigenous rice. Indigenous rice varieties are healthier (than white rice), organically grown, native to the region, and have a low glycemic index – making them great for our health, our planet, and our farmers!

Choosing the Right Kind of Rice for Your Baby

White rice: This is a good energy source that provides B Vitamins, folate, and Vitamin E. The amount of these nutrients depends on how it's processed. It also contains some calcium and iron.

Colored rice: These varieties are often more nutritious because they're semi or unpolished, retaining the nutrient-rich bran layer. This layer contains many vitamins, minerals, and fibers, making colored rice a nutrient powerhouse compared to polished white rice.

  • Red rice is packed with iron and zinc.

  • Black rice is rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

By occasionally swapping white rice for red or black rice, you’re giving your child an extra boost of nutrition. It’s a simple way to enhance the goodness they receive.

Is Rice Safe for Babies?

It’s a valid concern any parent/caregiver may have. Amid recent concerns about arsenic and toxic heavy metals in rice due to water pollution, it's crucial to take precautions. 

But that is the reason thoroughly washing rice or grains is so significant! By washing the rice multiple times and soaking it before cooking, you can minimize the risk of any contaminants, ensuring a safer meal for your baby.

So don’t worry much as long as you wash and soak rice before you cook it with fresh water.

Preparing Rice for Babies

India is a diverse country in so many ways, especially when it comes to cooking and eating. That’s why we’re exposed to a wide variety of rice preparations that are influenced by the different regions and communities of India. 

Here are some popular rice preparations that we’re sure you love and that your little can start enjoying:

  • Dal chawal or dal rice
  • Khichdi
  • Rice porridge
  • Curd rice
  • Sambhar rice
  • Pulao/biryani
  • Fried rice
  • Tamarind rice
  • Jeera rice
  • Lemon rice 
  • Coconut rice
  • Flaked or puffed rice
  • Kadhi chawal (kadhi with rice)
  • Rajma chawal (kidney beans with rice)
  • Idli and dosa
  • Upma
  • Idiyappam
  • Pongal
  • Puttu
  • Adai
  • Appam
  • Adirasam
  • Kozhukattai
  • Modakam
  • Payasam
  • Sevaiyan or vermicelli

Tips to Remember Before Your Baby’s Rice Journey

Remember these tips when introducing rice to your little one:

  1. Choking and Gagging

    Rice is generally not a choking hazard, but it can sometimes lead to gagging, especially if your baby tries to handle individual grains. Gagging is a normal part of the learning process as babies explore solid foods. Rest assured, the body's reflexes kick in during gagging, protecting the airway from choking.

    For a more comfortable rice-eating experience for your little one, try mixing rice with dal, sambhar, or curd to add moisture. This can help minimize instances of gagging.

  2. Rice Balls

    To make rice easier for your baby to handle and enjoy, consider serving ready rice balls. Simply cook the rice until very soft, mash it together, and shape it into a ball. These rice balls not only offer a delicious finger food option but also reduce the risk of gagging.

  3. Allergen It's worth noting that rice is NOT a common allergen, making it a safe choice for early introduction.

How to Cook & Serve Indigenous Rice

Indigenous rice varieties are nutritious making them a great addition to your little one’s diet! They are drought-tolerant, disease-resistant, do not require pesticides, and require lesser labor and farm inputs. This makes them good for the farmer and good for the environment!

Below are the details of local rice, ways to cook them fully, and recipes they can be used in. The table after this contains regular rice recipes and offers ideas for serving rice (white or colored) to your baby. Keep reading!

Name of rice

How to cook it

Recipes/when to use


Color/ Appearance/Flavor

Kichli Samba 

Wash and soak 1 cup of rice for 10 minutes. 


1 cup of rice = 2 cups of water


Pressure cook for 2 whistles on medium flame. 


If making the pulao or biryani in a pan, use 2.5 cups of water and cook covered on low flame for 5 minutes.

Suited for a variety of rice preparations like lemon rice, pulao, or biryani, it’s a perfect alternative to polished basmati rice. It gives a brilliant aroma while cooking!

High in fiber and B vitamins.

A traditional rice variety


Small sized


White color


Has a nutty flavor

Seeraga Samba

Wash and soak 1 cup of rice for 10 minutes. 


1 cup of rice = 2 cups of water


Pressure cook for 2 whistles on medium flame. 


If making pulao or biryani in a pan, use 2.5 cups of water and cook covered on low flame for 5 minutes. 

It can be a great alternative to basmati in dishes like biryani, jeera rice, peas/veg pulao, dal rice/khichdi

High in selenium, fiber, and antioxidants

White in color




Grains are extremely fine 


Starchy, so it absorbs the flavor of spices it’s cooked in!


Wash and soak 1 cup of rice for 1 hour.


1 cup of rice = 2 cups of water


Pressure cook for 6 whistles on medium flame. 

Can be had as plain rice, with dal, rajma, or pulses; can also be used to make idli, appam, or chilla

Rich in antioxidants and Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C; also contains minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and fiber

Reddish-brown in color


Typically, medium-grained with slightly coarse texture


Grains are usually longer than other varieties


Unique aroma; nutty and earthy flavor


Wash and soak 1 cup of rice for 30 minutes.


1 cup of rice = 2.5 cups of water


Pressure cook for 5 whistles on medium flame.

Great for making idli, dosa (especially neer dosa), idiyappam, puttu, kanji/porridge; even good for sweets like payasam.


Or serve as rice with meals

Rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, Vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, and molybdenum

Traditional unpolished red rice variety


Lovely nutty flavor


Wash and soak 1 cup of rice in 3 cups of hot water for at least 1 hour.


Pressure cook for 8-10 whistles on medium flame.

Can be used to make idli, dosa, uttapam, or porridges.

High in zinc, iron, and antioxidants

Red rice variety that’s extremely filling.


Nutty texture


No soaking required.


1 cup of rice = 2.5 cups of water


Pressure cook for 4 whistles on medium flame.

Cooks really fast and can be had as part of a typical Indian meal. 


It can easily replace white rice in dishes like dosa or idli. This rice flour can be used to make roti, chilla,

pulao, bisi bele bhath, fried rice

Easy to digest; high in fiber, zinc, and antioxidants

Short and thick grain


A natural reddish-brown color


Mild flavor

Sona Masoori 


Hand-pounded rice/ semi-brown rice

Wash and soak 1 cup of rice for at least 15 minutes.


1 cup of rice = 3 cups of water


Pressure cook for 2 whistles on high flame and 5 minutes on simmer.

Can be easily cooked and had with dal, sabji, sambhar/rasam. Good for pulaos or as an accompaniment to fish, chicken, or mutton curries, Chinese rice dishes

Contains complex carbs, iron, calcium, manganese, B vitamin, Vitamin K and E, and protein

Short grain


Dark brown in color


Nutty taste and aroma

Kalabati/kalabhat (black rice)

Wash and soak 1 cup of rice for 30 minutes.


1 cup of rice = 2 cups of water


Pressure cook for 6-7 whistles on medium flame. 

Can be used for making porridge, biryani, desserts, rotis, and more.

Rich in iron, Vitamin E, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, zinc; contains more protein than brown rice.

Deep black color which usually turns deep purple when cooked


Sweet, nutty, chewy taste and texture

Sources (for Indigenous rice):

  1. Indigenous Foods of India: A Comprehensive Narrative Review of Nutritive Values, Antinutrient Content and Mineral Bioavailability of Traditional Foods Consumed by Indigenous Communities of India (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2022.696228/full)
  2. Nutritional and functional properties of coloured rice varieties of South India: a review (https://journalofethnicfoods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42779-019-0017-3#:~:text=The%20Indian%20rice%20varieties%20cultivated,Boli%2C%20Palakkad%20Matta%2C%20etc.)
  3. Anuradha Sridharan: How to cook indigenous rice varieties (https://www.anuradhasridharan.com/2017/11/how-to-cook-indigenous-rice-varieties.html)

RICE: Age-Wise Recipes & Tips


6 to 8 months

The rice should be cooked thoroughly and mashed or shaped to prevent choking. Colored rice varieties will take longer to cook and may not become as soft as white rice. They will need more water and more time to cook thoroughly.


1) Spoon feeding: Cook and mash rice to create a smooth porridge consistency. Serve it with a spoon in the traditional feeding method, or offer a pre-loaded spoon for your baby to hold and bring to their mouth independently.


2) Rice balls: Cook rice with dal and ghee to make a nutritious dal chawal or paruppu sadham. Shape the mixture into small balls and serve them on a plate. This encourages your baby to grab and hold the rice balls, enhancing their palmer grasp and self-feeding skills. The round shape of rice balls makes them easy for babies to handle and enjoy.

9 to 11 months

The rice and accompanying ingredients should be cooked thoroughly and cut into appropriate sizes to prevent choking.


1) Rice bowls: Prepare one-pot meals using rice as the base, such as sambhar rice, kadhi chawal, pulao with curd, or flattened rajma chawal. These balanced meals offer a variety of flavors and nutrients in a convenient bowl format.


2) Variety of rice dishes:

- Idli: Cut idlis into long strips or wedges and offer them dipped in sambhar, providing a soft and nutritious finger food option.

- Dosa: Cut dosas into long or small strips and offer them dipped in sambhar or less spicy chutneys, curd, vegetable gravy, egg curry, or chicken gravy for a versatile and flavorful meal option.

- Iddiappam: Serve idiyappam with options like coconut milk, vegetable stew, chicken stew, or egg kurma, allowing your baby to explore different tastes and textures.

- Pongal: Pair pongal with sambhar to introduce a traditional South Indian dish that combines rice and lentils, offering a wholesome and delicious meal.

12 to 24 months

Offer rice in various ways and explore different rice dishes to cater to your baby's preferences. At this age, babies are often eager to explore and enjoy rice dishes using their hands or utensils.


You can introduce the concept of flavors by serving rice in different ways, such as plain rice with ghee or offering a variety of rice options. Just like adults, babies appreciate having choices!


While rice is one staple, wheat is another. Let’s explore all about wheat next week and how to safely serve it to your baby.

Learn the right ways to nourish from experts