- Food and Cooking
Rice grass belongs to the kingdom of plants to the family of Poaceae. Rice is obtained from the grass Oryza glaberrima and Oryza sativa. Rice is a seed and is an important cereal grain for populations worldwide. Wild rice plant originated in Australia. Chinese domesticated rice around ten to twelve thousand years ago. With time cultivation of rice spread from China to Asia, Europe and American continents. Rice plant has a life cycle of one year and depending on the region its life cycle can extend for up to two years. In certain tropical areas rice plant is cultivated by leaving roots and parts of the plant intact. This method of cultivation allows the crop to survives for thirty years for subsequent harvest. The rice plant bears flowers and grows to a size of roughly two meters. Cultivation of rice is labor intensive and plenty of water is necessary for growth of the plant. Rice can be grown on different types of terrains like fields or hills. Rice is traded extensively among many countries and it is one of the major commodity crops in the world.
Rice seeds are planted in tracts in a field and the area is flooded with water. The land is prepared thoroughly so that the seeds can be planted deep in the soil. Silt clay soil is good to grow rice plant as it holds water. Clay loam soil is also used to grow rice plant. Sandy soils are not preferred to grow rice as water can pass through easily. Rice plant can be grown in acidic as well as alkaline soils. The crop is monitored regularly to weed out any pests that may harm the crop. Moisture content of rice grain very important to determine the time of harvest for the crop so that good quality crop is obtained. When the rice grains have a moisture content of around twenty five percent, they are harvested manually or by mechanical harvesters. Threshing of the cultivated rice plant takes place immediately either manually or mechanically. For milling, rice paddy’s moisture has to brought down by another five percent. Mills are employed to dry the rice paddy and convert the paddy to polished rice. Outer hulls from rice grains are removed manually or mechanically by machines and then the grain is polished to produce the white rice grain which is commonly used. Nutrients are added to white rice so that any minerals and vitamins lost during the removal of hulls get replenished. Depending on the size of the rice grain, various dishes can be prepared. Long rice is boiled and served with lentils or rice is fried in oil along with vegetables to make fast food and snack fillings. Risotto, a sweet dish, is made by medium-grain rice. Desserts and pudding are made using short grain rice. Rice is washed before cooking and soaked in water. Boiling or steaming rice in water or oil is the best way to cook it.The optimum conditions for rice to grow are temperatures between twenty two degrees to thirty two degrees, with good sunshine. Strong winds are harmful for the rice crop so areas where light breezes blow are preferred to plant rice. Every hundred grams of rice served provides around four hundred to five hundred kilo calories of energy. Rice is nutritious for health and is rich in nutrients. China, India, and Indonesia are the major producers of rice in the world. The yield per hectare for rice is best in countries like Egypt, Australia and United States of America.
Rice bran is used to make oil and pickling bed for pickles. Rice is grind into flour which is used in drinks, snacks and dishes. Rice is used extensively to make different types of noodles. Rice is rich in protein and it is used with non vegetarian food , seeds and vegetables to make dishes. Rice is an important staple food for populations world over and is important for food security around the world. So many government and public welfare organization provide rice to poor and unprivileged sections of the society. India, Vietnam and Thailand are the biggest exporters of rice. Jasmine rice and basmati rice are the two main varieties of rice that are exported by countries. Farming rice produces methane gas which is a greenhouse gas. Farming rice restricts oxygen supply to the soil due to flooding. Anaerobic fermentation takes place in soils due to restricted oxygen supply which decreases crop yields. Insecticides, rodents, pets, weeds and diseases can destroy rice crop. Fertilizers and insecticides are regularly applied to rice crop to reduce the looses due to above factors. Mangaportha grisea is a fungal disease which can effect a rice crop. Farmers use natural and sophisticated disease control program to protect the rice crop. Rice has a lot of varieties like indica, japonica and aromatic varieties. Rice cultivars are differentiated on the basis of size and texture of grains. Jasmine rice, Mocha rice, Sticky rice, Basmati rice, Sona Masuri, Ponni rice, Ambemohar are few well consumed cultivars of rice. Green revolution was instrumental in increasing rice’s yield. Scientists regularly perform genetic tests and adjust few genetic traits of rice seeds to better the crop quality. At times certain nutrients like vitamin A or proteins are added in rice grains by genetic engineering so that the rice food provides a better diet. Flood tolerant rice varieties have also been developed so that flooding the water field does not effect the rice crop. Similarly drought tolerant and salt tolerant rice plantations have also been developed to enhance growth and cultivation of rice paddy under constrained conditions. Rice plant is studied to understand meiosis and DNA repair which provides a better insight of plant genetics and plant growth. Rice is used in various religious ceremonies, worshiping, wedding and celebrations to create fine art.