Patna and Carolina Rice, they sound like two characters from a story, don’t they, Mr and Mrs Rice, in fact they are as you no doubt know varieties of rice with different qualities from each other and so useful for different dishes.

There is a rather nice history attached to Patna rice, which used to be what was most commonly used in Britain, and much of Europe too. It is a long grained rice and was mainly grown as you might guess around the city of Patna in India, which is the capital of Bihar. It is a close cousin of Basmati rice which is so popular now, and has a similar but less strong aroma.

A man named William Fullarton who came from Skeldon in Ayeshire, realised the potential for this rice  and made a vast amount of money from it. He built a hamlet, about five miles away, for local miners and called it   Patna in honour of this rice. The name then went on to mean almost any sort of aromatic long grained rice.

So Carolina rice… does it come from Carolina in the USA? Actually yes, and there is a whole history, some of it quite controversial attached to it.

Why am I writing about these two different sorts of rice? I’m looking at a 1930’s cookery book, my little favourite, the National Mark Calendar of Cooking, and I’m noticing how it specifies the two different rices.

For example, in October Carolina rice is specified for Pilaff of chicken, but Patna rice for Curried Vegetables.

Pilaff of chicken

  • 1 smallish chicken, cut into six pieces, wings, legs, breast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 oz of Carolina rice
  • good white stock
  • butter
  • slat and pepper
  1. season the chicken pieces, and fry in the butter until browned
  2. add onion, bay leaf, tomatoes
  3. meanwhile, fry the rice in a little butter until ‘dead white’, and add to the chicken
  4. cover with stock and cook in the oven for half an hour or so until the stock is absorbed by the rice and the chicken is tender

4 thoughts on “Patna rice, Carolina rice

  1. I must say that my favourite rice is basmati. You leave it to soak for about 20 minutes, drain and wash it, then boil it in twice the amount of salted water. Takes 1 minutes or so as long as it has been soaked first. I was taught how to cook it properly in Pakistan.

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