Suwandel Rice

Ark of taste
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Suwandel rice (Oryza sativa) is an indigenous white rice variety with an exquisite aroma. Its special milky taste makes it an ideal choice for festive occasions and ceremonies. It is said to promote a variety of medicinal benefits. Suwandel’s nutrient composition consists of 90% carbohydrate, 7% crude protein, 0.7% crude fat, and 0.1% crude fibre. Suwandel is also known to contain higher amounts of glutamic acid and higher concentrations of vitamins than other more common rice varieties. Suwandel is an heirloom variety cultivated organically with traditional rainfed methods in the southern lowlands of Sri Lanka. Because of this, cultivation takes longer than with other varieties of rice, usually 5-6 months until harvest. Heirloom rice cultivation in Sri Lanka is a sacred and well thought out process. Methods of production, and the sanctity associated with rice production to this day, make it a truly sustainable process. It was and is considered a four way mutual agreement between the weather gods, the farmer, the plough bull and the consumer. The farmer drove the process by bestowing offerings from the very first harvest to the weather gods, thanking them for the timely rain which enabled them to cultivate and feed the families; the bull pulls its own weight and the weight of the plough without much protest; and the consumer who supports the perpetuation of this sustainable cycle by their purchase. Suwandel rice and by-products like rice flour are staples of the Sri Lankan diet. Common preparations of this variety include the sweet and spicy cardamom- and turmeric-flavoured yellow Suwandel rice, and cumin seed-flavoured Suwandel with ghee (clarified butter). Consumers are now starting to understand the value of heirloom varieties like Suwandel due to enjoyment of the traditional flavours and awareness of their healthy qualities. Despite the challenges Suwandel rice faces from the increased cultivation by many farmers of faster growing hybrid varieties and a lack of younger generations continuing rice farming, this variety’s successful revival has given it a place in the Sri Lankan market again, hopefully for many generations to come.Photo:  

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