The main characteristics of Indian Basmati Rice are as follows:
Authentic Basmati rice is sourced from northern India at the foothills of the Himalayas. Whilst Basmati rice can be sourced from India and Pakistan, Indian Basmati is traditionally considered premium.
The colour of a basmati is translucent, creamy white. Brown Basmati Rice is also available but the most commonly used is white Basmati.
Long Grain. The grain is long (6.61 - 7.5 mm) or very long (more than 7.50 mm and 2 mm breadth).
Shape or length-to-width ratio is another criteria to identify basmati rice. This needs to be over 3.0 in order to qualify as basmati.
Dry, firm, separate grains. Upon cooking, the texture is firm and tender without splitting, and it is non-sticky. (This quality is derived from the amylose content in the rice. If this value is 20-22%, the cooked rice does not stick. The glutinous, sticky variety preferred by the chopsticks users has 0-19% amylose).
The rice elongates almost twice upon cooking but does not fatten much. When cooked the grains elongate (70-120 % over the pre-cooked grain) more than other varieties. Flavour:
Distinctive fragrance. The most important characteristic of them all is the aroma. Incidentally, the aroma in Basmati arises from a cocktail of 100 compounds — hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes and esters. A particular molecule of note is 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline.
Flavour and texture complements curries because it is a drier rice and the grains stay separate. Also suits biryani and pilaf (where saffron is added to provide extra colour and flavour). Great for Indian & Middle Eastern dishes.
Aromatic fragrance and dry texture.