Saudi Arabia: Which Rice is Best?


Rice is a staple among Saudis and can be served with any meal.  The question though is which rice is best?  In Saudi one will have many choices to choose from such as rice from all over Asia and parts of the GCC.  For me, the rice depends upon the type of dish I am making or the way that I like my rice to feel.  I’m a fine of sticky rice so I’ll tend to purchase either Egyptian rice or Jasmine Rice.  These types of rice are plumper and will stick together in nice little globs.  I personally believe that a sticky rice holds the flavor of the rice and the overall dish much better. Basmati rice is likely the most common type of rice served and especially in restaurants.


Kubsa is a meat and rice dish which goes well with virtually any kind of a rice.  But on the other hand if making a traditional cool weather meal like seleek, then a sticky rice is preferred.


Some families like their rice dish better if the rice at the bottom of the plan has scorched and is a crispy brown.  To some families that is the most tasty piece of rice.


Rice can be tricky to cook since so much depends on what kind of rice, what kind of water and whether the rice needs to soak before cooking.  Rice cookers are popular and put to a lot of use in Saudi.


38 Responses

  1. Nice blog – being a long time fan of rice and just arriving in the Kingdom, I am wondering if you select a rice cooker here, are there different cook settings for the different types of rice? The cooker I gave to my sister before departing the US, it had 2 setting selections. 1 for white rice and 1 for brown. Do the rice cookers here in Saudi have multiple setting selection options for the different rices?

  2. I am speechless.

  3. Wow, I just talking about rice tonight. My friend from Malaysia is very concerned about the environmental impact on rice production, the staple of Malayisa. (In the Ipoh-Perak)
    Personally, I like the Malaysia rice the most. The gain is much thicker and has an actual punch to it too.

  4. The rice cooker I had in Saudi was like one part steamed rice cooker and the other was a crock pot insert. I always just used the steamed cooker for rice and usually only when I wanted “regular no-frills” rice. Most the time I like to make rice in a regular sauce pan after soaking it in water. The secret is getting the right mix of water.

  5. Rice is yummy! I prefer it to other grains, except maybe quinoa. I do not like the added flavor of the bottom of the pan being scorched, typically. Long grain jasmine is the one I typically use, although sometimes I will choose a plain one depending on whether or not I think the jasmine flavor will go with it. And of course, the short grain sticky rice is what is usually used for things like sushi. kim bap, etc. Brown rice is supposed to be healthier, but I typically prefer how white rice tastes. Wild rice mixes can also be nice.

  6. And y’all are just going to ignore the best rice in the world, Minute? lol

  7. What did Saudis eat before importing rice?

  8. In our household, the kids are staunch “sona masoori” fans and we the adults swear by “rosematta” – red rice . it required more water and cooking time but is higher in fiber and very robust…cannot live without the red 🙂

  9. Good question nassima.

  10. The most healthy rice is basmati rice from India that has not been genetically modified with brown being the healthiest over white but the white is still very healthy. This rice has the least amount of bad carbs of all the rices available. The worst rices for your health are the short grain ones such as arborio. Considering the amount of diabetes in the kingdom getting people to change to eating brown basmati would be a blessing.

    How Does White Rice Affect Blood Sugar?
    No type of rice can really be considered a low glycemic food.
    As a general rule, brown rice has a lower glycemic load than white rice. But there are other factors that come into play as well. Long-grain rice has a lower glycemic load than short-grain rice. Of all the long-grain rice, basmati seems to have the lowest glycemic load of all. So, in terms of glycemic load, the best choice would appear to be brown basmati rice, with short-grain white rice at the other end of the spectrum.

  11. I ask because Saudis eat some rice every day while it does not grow in Saudi Arabia. The answer really interests me.
    is there some saudi natives to give me an answer?

  12. I’ve heard my oldest IN-law telling em that till the 1930’s saudi arabia produced most of it’s staple food themselves..

    staple foods were dates; goat, camel, and cow’s milk; ghee, cheese, and other milk products; bread from wheat, millet, and barley; veggies and occasionally mutton, goat, or camel meat and, he used to say they started the day with coffee and a few dates soon after the dawn prayer. A meal of dates, milk and/or milk products, and bread was served at midmorning. The last and main meal often was taken before the sunset prayer and consisted of a hot grain-based dish, vegetables among sedentary people in oases, milk among the nomadic Bedouin, rarely some meat, and dates.

    again i don’t know how muc of this is specific to their tribe etc.,

    apparently in the mid 1900 they traded fro rice ,sugar etc., with dates and cheese ..

    he is no more but was one of the v few in-laws who accepted and welcomed us and didn’t speak a word of anything but arabic. 🙂

  13. Funny I was just packing my bags for Saudi and guess what I’m importing from Finland? RICE!
    I like my rice brown (more healthy and tasty) and the ones I’m bringing have additional rye grains in it, some are called wild rice and they have very low glycemic index! Perfect for Ramadan cooking too.
    I haven’t found decent long grain brown rice in Saudi yet.

    Another thing that’s peculiar about buying rice in Saudi is that it comes in such huge sacks and it needs to be cleaned before use! I’m used to getting like a kilo or two at a time and its ready to cook and bug-free 😀
    here is a picture of those XXXL rice sacks:

    Carol you forgot to mention Saudis like to eat the sticky rice with their hands sometimes 🙂

  14. nassima I have wondered about that too and I asked my husband. He said they used to eat a lot of flat bread and then vegetables but I cant remember which ones.
    the traditional Saudi diet is actually really healthy!

  15. Lynn, LOL @ Minute rice! 😀 Did anyone say Uncle Ben’s?

  16. Sounds like a bunch of rice snobs here, eh? LOL I wonder how old I was before I realized that there were other kinds of rice out there? We didn’t really eat much rice when I was growing up. Potatoes, that’s the Irish rice. 🙂

  17. Jeddah has probably had rice for a long time as it is a port city and on the trade routes.
    Layla- I don’t know what city you’re in but try Danube for brown rice. They often have long grain and short. Sometimes, black, red and wild as well.

  18. thank you radhaa and laylah.

  19. I like the brown, red, and wild rice. And I have black rice, which is more like a grass really. It’s harvested from the wild so rather expensive. If it has to be white rice I like Basmati. And the special Japanese rice for making sushi! Yummi!

    I have friends who have those huge bags Layla showed on her link. There were long nosed beetles in it and they didn’t wash the rice before cooking.

    I don’t eat too much rice as I consider grains and especially wheat and corn to be unnatural food sources for humans and not very healthy. I eat some, but not a lot.
    It’s easy in the Netherlands to get all the kinds of rice you can think of, I miss that in America.

  20. About bread, Lord and Lady Blunt visited the governor of Hail on their travels to find the best Arab horses, and she described the breakfast they had: Bread with a lump of butter and honey and she described the bread as the best she ever had.

  21. Aafke,
    Try going to ethnic grocery stores, whole foods stores, and other specialty grocery stores in the US. I am not sure how the variety compares to the Netherlands, though.

  22. Strangeone, but that;s not so easy, they are few and far between, no like my city, where everything is a short bike ride away, besides I haven’t seen a really good wholefood shop yet. And I have never seen the type of full/multi grain breads I like. There are no outdoor markets, you need a car to get anywhere; ecological produce is very expensive, I find shopping for healthy food in America very difficult.

  23. Aafke – move to boston 🙂 we’re full of farms and organic produce and diff varieties of grain…

  24. I would love to! It’s over 100” in Dallas! 😦

  25. Texas sucks, come to Michigan, we’ve got everything here. 🙂

  26. Try Wholefoods ( a bit expensive, but a somewhat larger selection), Sprouts, and the health food sections of other grocery stores. You can also try “Asia World Market” , which I believe is a Chinese (Mandarin?; I can’t remember) grocery store. For Arabic foods, I have heard that Sara Bakery is good. I would also try any small grocers in your area. There are ones that cater more to specific ethnic styles of foods, such as Iranian, Turkish, etc.

    Trader Joe’s is another good place to shop, and I have been hearing rumors about the chain coming to the Dallas area.

    Here are some other websites I found in a web search that are more related to local organic co-ops:

    I am not sure how well they work in reality or anything like that.

    I can ask around if you’d like and see if I can come up with any better ideas for organic produce in the area…?

    100F in Dallas may not be great, but it is still much better than the barely 80F I experienced in the UK! 🙂 I do miss being able to take public transportation that was possible in England, though.

    There are quite a few local cycling groups in the area, which still isn’t the same as riding your bike everywhere I realize. Check out sites for local sports/outdoors stores that hold events, such as, look online at city websites for information on community events and activities (sometimes they’ll post info on walking/cycling events), and also websites such as

  27. Aafke,
    I just replied to your comment, but the post is in moderation because I posted 3 links in it. Hope the info helps you some! It’s always hard adjusting to a new place. Hope you find things a bit easier to adjust to in Dallas! ❤ I went through similar frustrations regarding finding organic produce when I moved to England.

  28. ‘Some families like their rice dish better if the rice at the bottom of the plan has scorched and is a crispy brown.’

    Guess what I had tonight!!! LOL That NEVER happens with Minute Rice.

  29. Sandy- I’m in Riyadh and Danube does have brown long grain, but sometimes it out of stock and its VERY expensive!

  30. Strange one, thank you I did a lot of internet searches, and the shops which are in a reasonable distance to reach from here are very limited.
    A good Chinese food store is nowhere near either. I love to cook Chinese.
    There is one farmers market I haven’t’ checked out yet. I miss the real markets in the Netherlands, where I can buy meat from real butchers, where I can get lots of fruit and vegetables, ecological too and very reasonably priced. Especially in America I would prefer ecological produce because in The Netherlands they cannot sell genetically modified food without telling you, and here they can. Also they wax all the fruits, it’s driving me nuts trying to find healthy foods here!

  31. Aafke, packaged healthy food can often be bought online. Try Amazon. But it won’t help with fruits, vegetables and meats 😦

  32. Also try to find a Whole Foods near you.

  33. TEXAS doesn’t have butchers???!! No way!

  34. Dallas is such a large city and full of wealthy people too…who I would imagine are fairly discriminating/demanding in their food choices. It is too bad you cannot find where they do their shopping. They would probably lead you to the best of everything….not that the rest of us don’t have discriminating food habits or desires but often it can be a bit pricey…Indian stores (and there must be a ton of them in Dallas) will have nice Basmatti rice. In India the brand “Tilda” is highly respected and very tasty too. But Radha can shed more light on that…

    Texas is the land of cattle and BIG beef…they must have butchers there. But I know what you mean…when I lived IN France, they had stores quite close by where you could get only bread…another for meats and cold cuts…another for only pastries and another for cheese…all within walking distance. America is more a one stop shopping kind of place…Good Luck!

  35. Yeah, when I mean in easy reach I mean it has to be less than half an hours drive. We are right at the edge so are dependent on the nearby malls. And I don’t have a car of my own yet, so I have to wait until I can usurp the Q’s car.
    I have hopes of that one farmers market I haven’t explored yet, just waiting until I can get my hands on that car in the daytime.

  36. Aafke, FInd the nearest indina store and trust methere are plenty in Texas 🙂 you will get excellent basmati rice, red rice, rose matta and about 10 diff types of lentils ( all genetically untoughed) and also good quality. same for spices ..

    Meat i have no knowledge on andmost of my friends in texas have large gardens where they grow quite a few veggies 8-9 months in a yr and the rest they get from their local farmers market. do not go near the supermarkets , they will wax and polish everything and stripping that is a monumental task.
    I havn’t lived in texas but in most places in US i havn’t had any trouble finding weird stuff( per F) that i need and trust me i have very exacting requirements. Most people around me in india are ready to pull their hair out when i stay there and start asking questions 🙂

  37. Actually, when it comes to searching for organic foods, fresh bread, etc., you are probably better off finding people who are a part of the lifestyle trend of eating minimally-processed foods, energy conservation, recycling, etc. You will find it among the middle and upper classes (It’s not as popular among the lower class, because to the lower class fruits and vegetables are already a luxury- I should know! Additionally, the lower class is typically not as well-educated.)

    I am not sure if it was one of the co-ops I mentioned already or not, but I do know someone who pays the $25/week in order to get the organic produce, fresh breads, etc. much cheaper through the co-op because the co-op is made up of enough people that you can buy wholesale. It may not be local foods, but at least it’s organic. Also, look for the farmer’s markets in each town. Usually, it is once a week. Unfortunately, they don’t always carry organic foods. I have heard of a wholesale-style market (with much cheaper prices), however what I heard last was that although there is an organic section to it, the organic section is not yet very large. I can’t remember where it was, though. I can get the name of the place for you if you’d like.

    As for a butcher, one thing you will have to get used to is that in the US, most people just go to the local supermarket and order from the meat section there. The quality of the meat varies from store to store, but I would definitely recommend Sprouts for organic meats. There is also a particularly good brand of organic, free-range beef that is delivered in the mail, but I will have to ask someone what the name of it is. There is also a place called Central Market Dallas, but I’ve never been there. I would recommend searching via google maps and reading reviews of places.

    I would definitely recommend getting a vehicle if you plan to stay in Texas. Everything is much more spread out than what you would be used to in the Netherlands (I imagine), making a vehicle almost necessary. People in the area will bike, jog, walk, etc. but it is typically for recreation purposes or (in some rare cases) to get to work if they live within a couple miles. If you plan to go out and explore the area at all, you’ll find having a vehicle to be much more convenient. It’s just another aspect of culture shock.

  38. Any idea where I can get wild rice in Saudi? I live in Jeddah & it seems to have disappeared for some time.

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