9 Surprising Creative uses of Rice and 10 Types of Rice

Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.
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We’re all familiar with the very popular Oryza sativa. We all know it to be a staple food in many countries. But did you know, aside from eating there are other creative uses of rice? Well, this article has been written to shed light on some of these non-eating creative uses of rice, hang on tight as we take you on a ride and expose you to a lot of things you wouldn’t believe exist.

First, let’s familiarize ourselves a little with the protagonist of this article.

Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or less commonly Oryza glaberrima (African rice). The name wild rice is usually used for species of the genera Zizania and Porteresia, both wild and domesticated, although the term may also be used for primitive or uncultivated varieties of Oryza.

It is an edible starchy cereal grain and the grass plant (family Poaceae) by which it is produced. Roughly one-half of the world population, including virtually all of East and Southeast Asia, is wholly dependent upon rice as a staple food; 95 percent of the world’s rice crop is eaten by humans. Rice is cooked by boiling, or it can be ground into flour.

How well do you know the history of rice?

According to www.ricepedia.com Oryza sativa was domesticated from the wild grass Oryza rufipogon roughly 10,000–14,000 years ago. The two main subspecies of rice – indica (prevalent in tropical regions) and japonica (prevalent in the subtropical and temperate regions of East Asia) – are not believed to have been derived from independent domestication events. Another cultivated species, O. glaberrima, was domesticated much later in West Africa.

Recent genetic evidence shows that all forms of Asian rice, both indica and japonica, come from a single domestication event that occurred 8,200–13,500 years ago in the Pearl River valley region of China.

In China, extensive archeological evidence points to the middle Yangtze and upper Huai rivers as the two earliest places of O. Sativa cultivation in the country. Rice and farming implements dating back at least 8,000 years have been found. Cultivation spread down these rivers over the following 2,000 years.

History of rice cultivation in Africa

Rice was grown in Africa long before any Javanese or Arabian voyager could have brought their rice to Madagascar or the East African coast. The local rice was first planted in the Niger delta’s core region, then in the Gambia, Casamance, Sokoto basins, and then extended to Senegal.

However, it never developed far from its original region. Its cultivation even declined in favor of the Asian species, which was introduced to East Africa early in the common era and spread westward. African rice helped Africa conquer its famine of 1203.

Varieties/Types of rice

There are so many different types and species of rice all cultivated and imported in different parts of the world. Well, this should not come as a surprise as rice is one of the most widely eaten food in the world. Worldwide there are more than 40,000 different varieties of Oryza sativa, classified into four major categories: indica, japonica, aromatic and glutinous

Here are some of the different types of rice:

1.      Brown rice:

brown type of rice
Image from Unsplash

Brown rice is an unprocessed, unpolished whole grain that is made by removing the rice kernel’s hull. The grain’s nutrient-dense bran and germ layer are preserved. When compared to white rice, it is chewier and has a nutty flavor.




2.      White rice:

white type of rice
Image from Unsplash

White rice is milled rice that has had its husk, bran, and germ removed. This alters the flavor, texture, and appearance of the rice and helps prevent spoilage, extend its storage life, and makes it easier to digest. After milling, the rice is polished, resulting in a seed with a bright, white, shiny appearance.






Brown rice vs white rice

Brown rice is the foundation of all white rice. The husk, bran, and germ of the rice are removed during milling. This procedure extends the shelf life of white rice while also removing much of its value, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

White rice is artificially enriched with nutrients to combat this. The refined grain is polished to make it look more appealing.

Carbohydrate content is high in both white and brown rice. Brown rice is classified as a whole grain. It has a higher nutritional value than its paler sibling. Whole-grain diets have been shown to lower cholesterol and the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Nutrient comparison:
Nutrient proximates Brown rice White rice
energy 82 calories 68 calories
protein 1.83 g 1.42 g
total lipid (fat) 0.65 g 0.15 g
carbohydrates 17.05 g 14.84 g
fiber, total dietary 1.1 g 0.2 g
sugars, total 0.16 g 0.03 g
calcium 2 milligrams (mg) 5 mg
iron 0.37 mg 0.63 mg
sodium 3 mg 1 mg
fatty acids, total saturated 0.17 g 0.04 g
fatty acids, total trans 0 g 0 g
cholesterol 0 mg 0 mg


Source: Healthline


3.      Basmati rice:

Basmati type of rice
Image from Unsplash

This is a variety of rice that has slender and lengthy grains. Basmati is an aromatic rice type with long, slender grains that are historically farmed in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Many countries use locally developed basmati rice crops and are widely eaten in Africa.

This variety of rice variety is eligible to be named basmati if it has a minimum average precooked milled rice length of 6.61 mm (0.260 in) and a minimum average precooked milled rice breadth of up to 2 mm (0.079 in), among other requirements, according to the Indian government agency APEDA.



Why basmati rice is the best choice of rice for diabetic patients:

Wholegrain Basmati rice has the lowest GI (glycaemic index) of any rice type, which means it releases energy slowly after digestion, keeping blood sugar levels steady, which is important for diabetes treatment.


4.      Arborio rice

Arborio rice types of rice and uses of rice
Image credit: TheEssentialIngredient

Arborio rice is a variety of short-grain rice used primarily in the classical preparation of risotto. It is named after the area in Italy where it was originally cultivated. This type of rice is short, fat, and slightly oval-shaped with a pearly white exterior.

Amylopectin, a starch found in rice, is abundant in this type of rice. Arborio rice keeps more of its natural starch content since it is milled less than ordinary long-grain rice. When rice is cooked, the starch is released, resulting in rice that is harder, chewier, and creamier than other types of rice. Arborio rice is slightly more expensive than conventional long-grain white rice.



5.      Jasmine rice

jasmine rice - types and uses of rice
Image credit: 123RF Photos

Jasmine rice is a long-grain variety of fragrant rice. Its fragrance, reminiscent of pandan and popcorn, results from the rice plant’s natural production of aroma compounds, of which 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline is the most salient.

The flavor difference between this type of rice and other white kinds of rice is determined by the type of white rice.



White rice is generally bland and somewhat sweet. The flavor of jasmine rice is likewise somewhat dull. Some people, on the other hand, claim that jasmine rice has a nutty flavor or that it tastes like plants.

6.      Red cargo rice

Bag with red Cargo rice, closeup
Image credit: 123RF Photos

This type of rice is a form of non-glutinous long-grain rice that is unpolished, similar to brown rice. The bran is crimson, purple, or maroon in color. During the milling process, the husks of the rice grains are removed, leaving all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals intact in the bran layer and germ.




This type of rice is rich in thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), fiber, iron, and calcium, among other nutrients. Cooked red cargo rice has a sweeter, nuttier flavor than normal white polished rice, and it has a chewier texture. Cooking time for red rice is slightly longer than for white rice, but not as lengthy as for brown rice. A softer texture is achieved by soaking the rice in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

7.      Parboiled rice

parboiled rice uses and types of rice
Image credit: 123RF Photos

Parboiled rice is rice that has been partially boiled in the husk. Soaking, steaming, and drying are the three basic phases of parboiling. These processes make it easier to prepare rice by hand while also improving its nutritional profile, modifying its texture, and increasing its resistance to weevils.



This type of rice is often referred to as converted rice and when compared to white rice, parboiled rice has fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates, more fiber, and more protein. This makes it a healthier alternative to traditional white rice. Rice that has been parboiled undergoes molecular modifications. In general, parboiling rice improves its nutritional value.

8.      Forbidden black rice

forbidden black rice - types and uses of rice
Image credit: NDTV Food

Black rice also called forbidden rice, or purple rice is a range of rice types of the species Oryza sativa, some of which are glutinous rice. This type of rice gets its signature black-purple color from a pigment called anthocyanin, which has potent antioxidant properties.



Black rice is also called ‘Forbidden Rice’ in ancient China since only those belonging to the upper class could afford to eat it. It is also called ‘Purple Rice’ because it usually turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its anthocyanin content, which is higher by weight than that of other colored grains.  It is suitable for making porridge, dessert, traditional Chinese black rice cake, bread, and noodles.

9.      Sticky rice

sticky glutinous rice -types of rice
Image credit: Amazon

This is a type of rice grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia, Northeastern India, and Bhutan which has opaque grains, very low amylose content, and is especially sticky when cooked. It is widely consumed across Asia.

It is also called glutinous rice, sweet rice, or waxy rice. It’s named glutinous in the sense that it’s gluey or sticky, not because it contains gluten (which it does not). While this type of rice is commonly referred to as sticky rice, it differs from non-glutinous japonica rice strains, which can also become sticky when cooked.




10. Wild rice

wild rice - uses and types of rice

In recent years, this type of rice has become increasingly popular as a whole grain. It’s high in nutrients and is said to have a variety of health advantages. Wild rice is not rice at all, despite its name. It is not linked to rice, despite the fact that it is the seed of aquatic grass. This grass thrives in shallow freshwater marshes and along the banks of streams and lakes in its natural habitat.



Wild rice vs brown rice

Cooked wild rice has about 30 percent fewer calories than brown rice as well as 40 percent more protein. It also contains more fiber, potassium, and zinc. Both options are gluten-free and rich in antioxidants and both make nutritious and delicious alternatives to white rice.


Health benefits of rice

Brown rice protects against chronic diseases:

Brown rice maintains the bran layer, which includes protective substances known as flavonoids, such as apigenin and quercetin. These chemicals have a significant function in disease prevention. Numerous studies have connected eating whole grains, such as brown rice, to a lower risk of heart disease, some malignancies, such as pancreatic and stomach tumors, and type-2 diabetes.

Diabetes management:

Brown rice can help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels. White rice, which has a glycemic index of 64, is more likely to cause blood sugar spikes than brown rice, which has a glycemic index of 55. A high diet of white rice has been linked to an elevated risk of diabetes in several studies.

Also, Basmati rice as said earlier is the best type of rice used in diabetes management due to its low glycaemic index.

It keeps the gut healthy

Even when you eat refined white rice, you get a lot of soluble fiber in the form of butyrate, a resistant starch. Butyrate can help you feel better in your gut by lowering inflammation. This is why, in the event of diarrhea, people are frequently advised to eat boiling rice.

It is a powerhouse of energy

Rice is a carbohydrate-rich food that offers a lot of energy quickly. That’s why, when they need an energy boost, even athletes choose white rice over brown rice.

African Rice Recipes you Would Love

Rice is a staple dish in a lot of African countries. It is very versatile, easy to prepare, and there are so many ways you could prepare and enjoy them. Here are some links to our favorite rice recipes here on the African Food Network:

10 Surprising Non-eating Uses of Rice

1.      It can  be used as a DIY hand warmer:

rice DIY handwarmers - creative uses of rice
Image credit: My Frugal Home

Surprised right? But it’s so true and real. This is one of the most creative uses of rice.

Rice can be used as fillers in hand warmers. Hand warmers are small packets that are held in the hand and produce heat on demand to warm cold hands. They are commonly used in outdoor activities. Other types of warmers are available to provide soothing heat for muscular or joint aches.




White rice is the best choice of rice for warmers because it isn’t likely to go rancid, and feels nice in the warmers. Some people prefer to use flaxseed in their warmers because it stays warm longer. Since it doesn’t have a very long shelf life, white rice is a better choice.

How to make:

Using a funnel, fill the bags about 1/2 – 3/4 full of rice. Close up the opening by either sewing it on the machine or using a quick whip stitch. Put the hand warmers into the microwave for about 15-20 seconds and that’s it!

2.      It is used to save a wet phone

Burying a wet phone inside a bucket or bag of rice helps save the phone. This works because rice is absorbent, but even at that, caution should be taken as it can’t absorb the moisture deep within the phone, so it only serves as a partial fix.

Here’s how to do it:

Switch off your phone if you can and dry its exterior as much as possible. It’s also a good idea if you can open it up and dry off the interior. It’s also a good idea to remove the battery and SIM cards from phones. Place it in a Ziploc bag or a rice container for 24 hours or more.

3.      It prevents metal tools from rusting

In a porous bag, toolbox, or similar package, place a suitable amount of uncooked rice. Metal tools can be housed and stored inside the toolbox. Replace the uncooked rice with a new set when it becomes damp. This should help keep the humidity low and prevent the tools from rusting.

4.      Rice water for hair treatment

Rice water is rich in minerals and vitamins which have many benefits for skin and hair. It is rich in amino acids which strengthen hair roots, add shine and make it smooth and silky. It also contains a carbohydrate known as inositol which repairs damaged hair and protects hair from further damage.

How to make rice water

Method 1:
  • take ½ cup of uncooked rice.
  • rinse thoroughly.
  • place rice in a bowl with 2–3 cups of water.
  • leave to soak for 30 minutes.
  • strain the rice water into a clean bowl and your rice water is ready.
Method 2: Boiling method:

The excess water left after cooking rice can be used on your hair. All you’ll need is uncooked rice, water, a pot, a strainer, and a spray bottle (or any storage container). After shampooing, spray (or pour) the rice water onto your hair. Leave it for 5 to 20 minutes, massaging it into your scalp. Rinse it out with regular water. 

5.      Useful as a DIY knife block

rice as a knife holder - creative uses of rice
Image credit: The Kitchen

You don’t need to spend a fortune on a knife block; rice and a basic utensil holder can do. Fill a large utensil holder with rice if you have a collection of different knives. This will suit a wide range of knife sizes and is far less expensive than a fiber cluster universal knife block.






6.      Rice water facemask

Rice water facemask is an important recipe in a skincare routine. Rice water is rich in amino acids, antioxidants, and minerals which may reduce or slow down the skin aging process. It could also inhibit the activity of elastase, an enzyme responsible for skin aging. Thus, rice water could help maintain skin elasticity and can reduce the appearance of aging signs on the skin.

Rice water facemask recipe:

  • Add the rice water and egg whites to a bowl, and mix until it becomes a paste.
  • Apply the pack on your face and leave it for 10-12 minutes, until it dries.
  • Once the pack has dried, rinse it off with cold water.
  • Include this magic ingredient in your face packs for glowing skin!


7.      You can use rice to clean your coffee grinder

If your coffee grinder or spice grinder has become really dusty or greasy, you can clean it by putting some rice through it; this is much easier than dismantling it. It will aid in the removal of trapped ground spices or stale coffee odors – just remember to wipe it clean afterward.

8.      It can be used as weights for blind baking

Baking blind is the process of baking a pie crust or other pastry without the filling. Blind baking is a culinary term for the process of pre-baking a pie crust or tart shell before the filling is added.

Both rice and beans are great blind baking weights. To blind bake pastry, first, roll out the dough in the tart or pie pan, then cover it with parchment paper. Bake the pastry for half the required time and then take it out to check. Fill the pastry with enough rice to completely fill it.

Remove the pastry from the oven after half the time has passed to check for it is baked. If the dough has turned a light golden brown around the borders, it has set and will not slide down the sides of the pan.

Transfer the rice from the crust to a container for later use using the parchment. You can’t cook the rice again once it’s been “baked.” Return the crust to the oven to complete baking, and voila, you’ve got yourself a flawlessly blind cooked pastry!


9.      It is used as a slow-release air freshener

This is one very creative use of rice. This is ideal for closets, restrooms, or any little location where a little aroma is desired! However, this air freshener isn’t strong enough for huge spaces. It isn’t obvious in the bedroom, but it is noticeable in a small bathroom.

To put the rice in, choose a tiny glass jar – usually 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Mix in 10-20 drops of essential oils thoroughly. Place it wherever you want for a subtle and long-lasting air freshener; simply shake the container to refresh it when you notice the scent is fading. Remember to keep these air fresheners out of reach of children and pets!

Now you these creative uses of rice, which will you be trying?

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Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

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