The Importance of Rice as an Essential Grain in China and India

Rice is an essential grain in many countries and it is used to prepare many sweet and savory dishes and desserts such as rice pudding. According to the World Book Encyclopedia 2011 Edition 16, Rice is produced in more than 110 countries including China and India. The two countries have been “ranked as the two highest rice manufacturing countries producing more than half of the world’s population of rice” (324). Rice pudding is a dessert that is eaten by many people from different parts of the world; the main ingredient being rice.

There are many different types of rice including jasmine rice, brown rice, and basmati rice. Sticky rice is the dominant rice used in many desserts throughout the world. Sticky rice, otheiwise known as glutinous rice, had its origins in Southeast Asia. Studies reveal that the rice was found in Asia 2,000 years ago. The rice was later able to make its way to countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. There are many variations of the sticky rice including “black sticky rice which is consumed mostly in sweetened form” in the country of Thailand (Kasma Loha-unchit 2011), however, when sticky rice is not being used, jasmine rice is substituted. Mango sticky rice pudding and coconut sticky rice cakes also originate in Thailand. The concept of coconut being added to rice pudding is a constant in many countries including Vietnam. In Vietnamese cuisine, “Che dau” is made with coconut milk and black eyed peas in addition to the sticky rice.

The sticky rice made its way to South West Asia and into Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. After making its way to the southern portion of Asia, spices originating in India, such as cardamom and cinnamon sticks, are used to garnish the dish. “Payesh”, the rice pudding originating in Bangladesh came first and the Indian adaptation shortly followed. “Kheer” is found in India and “is flavored with cardamom and coconut and garnished with raisins and almonds, is from Bengal, which is famous for its milk desserts” (Sahni 201).

Asian countries are not the only ones who include spices in their rice pudding variation. In the country of Peru, “arroz con leche is made with cloves which give the dessert a special aroma and flavor” (Spanish Food 2011). In Columbia, arroz con leche is served with grated coconut on top unlike other countries where it is combined with the pudding. Arroz con Leche is sometimes served with a dust of cinnamon or sugar which then creates a caramelized crust at the top of the dessert.

Sticky rice pudding has changed over numerous different countries including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Peru, Colombia, and Thailand. Different toppings, spices, fruits and even beans were added into the dessert as it traveled from place to place. The pudding has gone through several different changes as it spread to across different lands; yet the same concept of rice, milk and sugar remains consistent in all of the countries.