Basmati rice has a typical pandan-like (Pandanus amaryllifolius leaf) flavour caused by the aroma compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline. Basmati grains contain about 0.09 ppm of this aromatic chemical compound naturally, a level that is about 12 times more than non-basmati rice varieties, giving basmati its distinctive spicy fragrance and flavour. This natural aroma is also found in cheese, fruits and other cereals. It is a flavoring agent approved in the United States and Europe, and is used in bakery products for aroma.
During cooking, the level of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline decreases. Soaking the rice for 30 minutes before cooking permits 20% shorter cooking times and preserves more of the 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline.
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