Gandhasaale rice ‘stars’ in many pieces I write, it was the first non-Basmati scented rice I was consciously aware of and it was the rice my ailing dad loved towards the end of his life. He, who loved rice, had stopped eating rice towards the last years of his life. The day we cooked Gandhasaale rice, the fragrance of the rice cooking in the house got him to the kitchen to check and said, ” I will have some rice today “. I also feel connected to the rice as I procure it from known organic farmers. It is to support such organic farmers with marketing support that Bio Basics was conceived and exists.
We use it to make various preparations like pulav, pumpkin rice, tomato rice, payasam, table rice anything at all. This fragrant rice grown in the Mysore plateau encompassing areas from Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu is known as Gandhasaale in Karnataka and Gandhaka saale in Kerala. This is a small grained, non-slender fragrant rice. When you cook it the fragrance gently wafts around the house filling your senses and slowly creating an appetite.
The fragrance of Gandhasaale attracts the birds and rodents while the paddy is maturing in the fields. Lenish, my farmer friend tells me, ” In a field, with varied varieties, the birds come for the Gandhasaale, if we don’t guard the fields they could harvest most of this lovely fragrant paddy.” He added, ” Gandhasaale grown in the plains doesn’t have the same fragrance.”
The rice is of 150-day duration and is sown during the first season in July and harvested in December. The paddy is aged for four to six months before milling to give good quality rice. It is fairly easy to grow a variety, however, as is the case with all fragrant varieties organically the yield is low making it high-value rice.
Today, when I made Ven Pongal with organically grown Gandhasaale rice in the Kalchatti passed down to me from my great grandmother, the gentle fragrance of the rice brought back memories of my father and also filled me with gratitude towards the organic rice farmers who are growing it season after season, to keep this heritage alive for our children. We need to relish these kinds of rice to conserve them.