Above is the oldest known reference to the rice cultivar named Basmati. These are lines from the epic poem, Heer Ranjha, by iconic Punjabi poet Wasir Shah (1725– 1798). Its citation went some way to establishing India’s prior art in the development of Basmati, challenging US-based RiceTec Inc.’s patent on the scented pearl of India.

A translation of the extract from which the verses are picked:

“…Fragrant rice stores are filled in which Gold Leafed & ordinary rice are being threshed,Basmati, Musafaree, Begumee, Harchand and Yellowish rice are getting stored, Suthee, Karchaka, Sewala Ghard, Kanthal and Kekala rice are being moved,Fine white Kashmir, Kabul rice dishes which are eaten by fairies and beautiful women  ….”

Wasir Shah’s poem also makes mention of a rice know as satthi (referring to the 60 days it takes to mature). It is a coarse rice that Mughal Emperor Akbar’s industrious scribe Abu Fazl makes note of in the Ain-e-Akbari. We turn to the story of satthi next.

Teaser: It is the perfect Sunday morning. The Cambay breeze wanders and cools the palace air.