I am always on the lookout for unusual varieties of rice and am increasingly amazed by how little the average consumer, including myself, knows about this fantastic grain. I have two previous rice entries here and here for those that are curious. While I can safely say I have consumed at least 100 different bottles or types of wine in my lifetime, 20 different types of apples and perhaps over 100 different types of seafood, I have probably only eaten at most, 20 or 30 different varieties of riceâ€¦ and I eat rice nearly every single day! On a recent trip through the new Tiendesitas Mall on C5 near Ortigas Avenue, I spied 3 interesting varieties of rice on offer in the food section. First, I found a red rice variety from Kalinga that had a stunning color and beautiful grains. At PHP50 a kilo, it was not cheap but if grown by traditional methods and trekked up hills or through rice terraces, I donâ€™t mind the premiumâ€¦
I also found a Benguet rice called Balatinao at PHP60 a kilo. Again, one of many, many varieties of rice grown in that region under difficult conditions and perhaps one that dates back hundreds if not thousands of years since the terraces were createdâ€¦ Finally, the priciest find but also the most intriguing is this murky, olivish-grey rice (photo at right) that the vendor said was a variety of malagkit (sticky rice) called Inuruban from Sagada, Mountain Province (not sure how this is related to the Inuruban from Tarlac). Apparently, this rice has been pre-cooked and dried and is stewed with coconut milk and sugar and served as a dessert or sweet. She said not to rinse it before cooking but it does look a bit grungy. I havenâ€™t tried cooking it yet so I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s worth the PHP70 a kilo asking price. They only had a few more kilos of this variety left so I got some just to try out.