Food

Cup rice anyone? Meet Komal Saul, an 'instant' variety of rice from Assam

Move over instant noodles. Komal Saul, an instant variety of rice from Assam, is making its début

‘Ready to eat’ is the order of the day — noodles, pasta, oats, idli mixes — and cooking has been made simpler. Ah my friends, if you came to know of Komal Saul or Komol Saul, you’d know that instant food is not a modern-day invention, but one that has been very well entrenched in history.

My brush with this instant rice happened at Biofach India with India Organic held recently at the Noida Expo. Sonjoy Changkakaty, executive partner, Greencover Overseas, introduced me to it with a “Taste this first”, offering me cooked Komal Saul rice with jaggery and curd.

As I wondered what was so different about it, he laughed and said, “This is magic rice; it cooks on its own.” All one has to do is soak the rice in some warm or boiling water for 10 minutes and it’s done. Alternatively, it can also be soaked in normal or cold water for about 30 minutes for it to cook. Move over cup noodles, pastas and masala oats.

Intrigued, I began researching a bit about this variety of rice, which is a staple in Assam, and usually consumed on important occasions.

The rice, it turns out, is not Nature’s offering, but achieved by the processing of two typical varieties of rice that are indigenous to Assam. Changkakaty explains, “It has been used since time immemorial. The processing cannot be done using just about any rice variety. It is specifically made by using Bora and Chokuwa (pronounced sukova). Though I am not sure of the technical process, I do know that it is soaked overnight, boiled and then sun-dried. All of this has to be done within a day, if the rice is to become an instant rice.”

The processing is done manually in the villages where the rice is grown. Very little information is available on how the process started or who invented it. The yield of the rice used in making Komal Saul is very poor, as Changkakaty says, “It is almost 50% of the normal yield per hectare. This makes the rice very expensive.”

  • Soak the rice in warm water. When done, add milk to it and powdered jaggery. Now mash a ripe banana into this, mix everything well and eat. Yes, it is simple, full of proteins and taste. An interesting breakfast option!

This is one of the most underrated products of Assam, with immense potential for marketing and commercial processing. Changkakaty’s company is working towards launching Komal Saul instant rice cups in various flavours. It is likely to work like cup noodles, where all one needs to do is add hot water. Trials are on, and if everything goes well, it is likely to be launched by January 2018. The team is currently working on standardisation of the water to be poured into the rice. Flavours such as pulav, vegetable rice and moringa powdered rice are being envisaged.

The rice itself is a soft short-grain variant, which tastes similar to par boiled rice. It doesn’t have a distinctive flavour of its own and it is the milk or curd which gives it the texture, while jaggery adds to the flavour. Given Delhi’s cold weather, my attempts at making it using boiling water took longer than 10 minutes, but the results were thrilling to see.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 12:32:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/meet-komal-saul-the-instant-rice/article21661685.ece

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