Kalanamak is one of the finest quality naturally scented rices of India. It derives its name from black husk (kala = black; the suffix ‘namak’ means salt). This variety is in cultivation since the Buddhist period (600 BC). It was quite popular in Himalayan Tarai of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India; however, acreage under this variety declined sharply due to increase use of high yield varieties forcing it to near extinction. Its now being cultivated in eastern states of Uttar Pardesh and Bihar to bring back this nearly lost variety.
It surpasses Basmati rice – the variety with the highest trade volume in the international market – in every aspect except grain length, says Uttar Pradesh State Biodiversity Board in a document on agricultural diversity. It is soft, easily digestible and has a long shelf life. It also has “greater head rice recovery after polishing and better elongation after cooking,” says the board.