Rice in Ayurveda


Rice is the commonest and the most ancient grain used all over the world. Most of the ancient civilizations have been rice-eating population.The description of cereals in all Ayurvedic text, including Charak Samhita, start with the description of rice. Organic rice is one of the grains that has minimum reported allergies against it.

Ayurvedic Description Of Rice

There are many varieties of rice mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. unfortunately, most of them have become extinct due to neglect and advent of new genetically modified crops. The best of these is called Shashtik rice. It is the variety that matures in 60 days, hence the name Shashtik rice (Shashti – 60). The qualities of other rice varieties are lesser but similar to shashtik rice.

Qualities of rice (Charak Samhita 17/13) –

  • cool in temperament
  • imparts moisture
  • light to digest
  • sweet in taste (provides carbohydrates)
  • balances all 3 dosha
  • establishes stability in the body

Rice that grows in Hemant Ritu is called shali rice. Sach rice is white in colour and without husk. Shali rice is sweet, unctous and and offers tonic properties. it forms low amount of fecal matter after digestion. It is slightly astringent, light to digest, stimulates hunger (ruchi Karak), good for vocal cords, helps to increase potency. It’s slightly vitiates vata and kapha. It is cool in temperament and helps to balance Pitta dosha. Rice also stimulates urine formation.

Jav Rice – this variety of rice grows in field burnt before cultivation. This rice is astringent, light to digest, stimulate the formation of fecal matter and urine, dry and alleviates kapha dosha.

Rice that is grown by sowing seeds in a field health balances vata and Pita. It is heavy to digest and increases kapha dosha. It is perfect for improvement in potency. It is astringent in taste. It forms a comparatively minimal amount of fecal matter. It is considered to have neuroprotective and tonic properties.

Rice that grows naturally without any cultivation process has different properties then artificially produced rice. It is Sweet, balances Pitta and kapha dosha. However, it can slightly vitiate vata and digestive fire if consumed improperly. It is somewhat pungent and astringent in taste. It has katu vipaka (forms fats primary at the end of the digestion).

Another variety of rice is grown by sowing Seedling. This variety of rice is sweet, tonic in nature balances pita scarf low amount of fecal matter. This variety is heavy to digest and cool temperament. Newly harvested rice of this variety has better properties. If the grains are old, they are light to digest.

Rakta Shali: This variety of rice is considered to be the best. This variety is naturally reddish in color. This rice strengthens the body, clears the complexion, balances all three doshas and is a tonic for the eyes. It has a excellent positive effects on the urinary system, vocal cords, and male potency. This rice also kindles the digestive fire. It can eliminate waste, poisoning, women, asthma, and general inflammation in the body.

Brihi Dhanya: Which rice grows naturally during the rainy season. Green is white in color after polishing. This rice takes a long time to get cooked. Brihi Dhanya has many some varieties like Krishna brihi, patal, Kukutandaka, shala Mukh, jatu mukh, etc. Briefly, rice is sweet and cool in temperament. It prevents excretion and is VERY good for diarrhea. Other qualities of brihi rice are similar to Shashtik rice.

If you are eating organic rice, you might be eating one of these! 

Ayurvedic Cooking Method for Rice

It is important to note the right way of cooking rice.Rice cooked in the intense heat and pressure of the pressure cooker loses its nutrition. Here nutrition is measured not in terms of calories, but bioavailable  nutrients in the food. Therefore you should cook rice over a slow flame.Also, if half cooked rice is kept in hot water for some time, it gets fully cooked.

You should cook rice by boiling in excess water. It is good to add a little ghee in it. According to Ayurveda, this water absorbs the dryness and excess starch of the rice. So, the rice left after removing the water has more fibre as compared to the starch. Also it does not produce the drying effect in the body. This rice is especially recommended for the old people who develop a natural tendency to lose moisture and oil from their bodies due to vata. It is also very good for sick people or people with derailed digestive process.

Many people might contest the efficacy of this cooking method by saying that all the nutrition of the rice will be gone if the rice water is removed. However, consider the example of a piece of chalk or eggshell. Both are made up of  calcium carbonate, but we cannot munch a chalk one day and get the required quantity of calcium for a year. The nutritious amount has to be in an optimal quantity and absorbable state. The rice separated from rice water gets readily absorbed in the body.

According to Ayurveda, rice water contains less absorbable nutrition. Due to its dry nature, it tends to absorb fat from the body. Therefore, consuming rice water with zero rice is a part of the slimming diet in Ayurveda. But at the same time, it provides adequate nutrition to the body.   

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Right quantity for rice

It is extremely important to choose the right quantity of rice. Ayurveda says “Excess is anything is always harmful”. Excess food intake taxes the digestive system. Thus, when improperly digested even good food can cause toxins in the body. The best amount of grains that one should consume in a day is equal to the quantity of raw grain that can be contained in his 2 hands joined together. This quantity is applicable for a healthy person engaged in manual labor and with excellent digestion. However, it might not be applicable for a person with a sedentary job.

The best way to judge the right quantity is to listen to your body. You must stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. The quantity suggested includes all the ingredients of the meal like pulses, meat, dairy, grains, vegetables, etc. If you exercise regularly then you can consume rice as 80% of the meal. If you have slow digestion, you should not take rice (or any grain) more than 50% of the total meal. In this case, it is better to include fruits and vegetables, digestives like buttermilk, papad, etc.

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Right combinations for Rice

The best thing about rice is that it goes with anything and everything. Rice can be consumed with dairy, meat, vegetables, and even fruits(for example Aamrasa or cooked mango juice). Personally, I have not come across any proscription against rice. Therefore, rice is recommended even for sick and recuperating people in the form of Khichadi. 

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