It ranks low on Mughal era scribe Abu Fazl’s list of rice by price. But it’s rugged, starchy quality, and mild sweet flavour is exactly what makes it perfect for India’s number one soul food: khichdi. This is what Emperor Akbar would have every time he needed to tuck into something reassuring. Nourishing and digestible, it’s the perfect fix for children, elderly, and those on the mend.

Successive generations would inherit Akbar’s preference for this specific khichdi. His ill-tempered grandson, Aurangzeb, would take a shining to the very same preparation. In one moment of dereliction in the middle of his worries over the Deccan, Aurangzeb finds himself yearning for khichdi. He requests his son to send over his cook, whose masterful preparation of biriyani and khichdi, still lingers in his memory.

The low-yielding sathi/saathi is also considered auspicious among some communities today and it is the preferred grain base for a type of kheer and paddy prepared during festivals in Bihar and UP. A rice that binds king and countrymen.

  • Rice Research in South Asia through Ages, Y L Nene
  • Sweet and sticky, DowntoEarth, Sangeetha Khanna