A distant cousin of genus Oryza (regular rice), wild rice is part of genus Zizania. Simply said, wild rice is not rice, actually. It is the seed of a semi-aquatic grass as opposed to grain, growing in small lakes, slow-moving streams and shallow freshwater marshes, around 2-4 feet deep. Native to North America (specifically the Great Lakes region), there are 3 species of wild rice, which are harvested as whole grains and one species, native to Asia (specifically China) is harvested as a vegetable for a brief period of 2-3 weeks in the month of September.
Not all wild rice found in grocery stores are naturally occurring; most of them are cultivated or hybridized versions called paddy wild rice. However, there is a difference between the two in terms of cooking time, texture, appearance and yield. The ones occurring naturally have reduced cooking time and varying texture, whereas the cultivated rice has lesser yield and uniform appearance.
Naturally gluten-free, wild rice is richer in protein than many other grains, high in fibre and powerful antioxidants and low in carbohydrates and fat, thus keeping one energized for long. Moreover, wild rice decreases the risk of heart diseases and controls blood sugar levels. It is also ideal for those watching their weight.
The cooking time of wild rice varies depending upon how it was dried, stored or whether it is true wild rice or cultivated one. Be sure to taste it to know its texture and follow any of the cooking methods you like, shared below.
Owing to its chewy texture and nutty flavour, it is a delightful addition to various exotic dishes including pilafs, dolmas, soups, salads, desserts and casseroles. It is also eaten as a vegetable in various Asian dishes, making a great power bowl. To lend a delicious crunch and earthy flavour to regular rice, blend wild rice with them.
Wild rice is also known as Canada rice, Indian rice and water oats.
When cooked, wild rice expands to 3 to 4 times its original size.
Wild rice can be consumed as popcorn by popping it in little oil.
It is a nutritious alternative to gluten-free grains like quinoa, buckwheat or millet.
Owing to its (cultivated wild rice) tough production conditions, it’s costlier than many other grains. So despite its natural power appeal, it cannot vie to be a staple, everyday place in your dish. But nothing stops one from adding it as an exotic addition to your world food gourmet.