Commonly referred to as sonamasuri rice, sona masoori rice is an Indian rice that is very popular in India and in other parts of the globe. This rice is a medium-grain rice that is a hybrid of two rice species – sona and masoori. Both of these species of rice are popular in India, but the hybrid sona masoori combines each variety’s best features. 

For example, whereas sona rice is highly threshable, sona masoori is a hardier grain that is widely considered to be a superior grain.

I am a big fan of Southeast Asian and Asian recipes, and I have recently taken to using sona masoori in many of my recipes – even those that don’t originate in India and the surrounding area. For me, it’s a matter of taste and nutrition; sona masoori has a lot of nutrients that also add extra flavor, so it’s kind of a win-win situation.

While this rice is typically overshadowed by basmati rice, it’s a rice that is very popular in India, and as a result, it’s beginning to become more popular in the States as well. In this guide, I’m going to teach you all about sona masoori, and I’m also going to show you a few recipes that you can try at home using this rice variety.

What is Sona Masoori Rice?

Before we get into the deep-dive details of this unique rice variety, it’s important to understand a bit about its origins. Sona masoori rice originates in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka, and to this day, this rice is largely cultivated in these areas. Sona masoori is considered aromatic rice, and people that are used to standard rice may at first be a bit shocked at the high degree of flavor that can be found in sona masoori raw rice.

In some parts of India, this unique variety is referred to as Bangaru Theegalu or golden ivy, which is a reference to the coloration on the fronds of the main plant. This masoori rice and soma rice hybrid have brown and white varieties, and both are very nutritious, but the sona masoori brown rice benefits include higher protein and fewer carbohydrates per serving.

How to Cook Sona Masoori Rice

Personally, I love the rice cooking process; adding water and watching the rice absorb it is something akin to magic for me. That being said, not everyone understands how to cook up their rice with the best results, and while sona masoori doesn’t cook much differently from standard rice, I think it’s a good idea to show you how to cook it up for the best results.

The Standard Method

To cook up you rice for the best results, you’ll need:

  • One cup of sona masoori rice (I like to use royal sona masoori rice)
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups of water
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt
  • One tablespoon of butter
  • A large skillet, pot, or saucepan

To start, you want to remove as much of the starch from your rice as possible, so it’s best to rinse your rice beforehand. To do this, simply run the cup of rice under the faucet under a gentle stream. You can swirl it around a bit with a spoon and drain it. Repeat this process one more time, and you’re done. Next, combine the rinsed rice with the water and let sit for about 15 minutes or so.

After this period has elapsed, place the rice and water in a saucepan or skillet with the salt and butter and bring it all to a boil. Once it’s boiling, stir the rice and cover. Reduce the water to medium and let the rice cook for about 15 minutes – you’ll be able to tell that the rice is done cooking when you can no longer see the water. Once it’s clear that the water has been absorbed, your rice is ready to serve.

Microwaving Your Sona Masoori

Did you know that you can prepare your rice in a microwave? I find this method to be fairly useful when you have to cook up some rice in a slightly faster manner, and using the microwave reduces the micromanagement.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One cup of sona masoori rice
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups of water
  • A microwave-safe bowl

Similarly to the standard method, I suggest thoroughly and gently rinsing your sona masoori rice at least twice so that the starch is greatly reduced.

Also, just like the standard method, combine the water and the rice and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Once this period has expired, transfer the water and rice to the covered microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for about 10 minutes.

Once this time has passed, remove the cover and stir briskly. Finally, place the bowl back in the microwave with the cover on and use the defrost setting for another 10 minutes or so. Serve immediately.

Cooking it up in a Rice Cooker

When I mentioned that microwave was relatively micromanagement-free, this was just comparing it to the standard cooking method. Owning a rice cooker makes the process almost completely effortless because a good rice cooker will do all of the crucial steps for you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One cup of sona masoori rice (I like to use royal sona masoori rice)
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups of water
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt

Gently rinse the rice two times under a faucet as before, but this time, simply place the water and rice into the main bowl of your rice cooker. Add the salt, turn on the device, and allow it to run through its rice preparation cycle. Once the cycle is complete, fluff the rice with a wooden fork so that you don’t scrape the bottom of the bowl and serve.

Why Would You Use Sona Masoori Instead of Standard Rice?

So, now that I’ve given you an impression about sona masoori, you may be wondering why bother using this rice instead of the standard white, jasmine, or basmati rice that you can get at your local Asian food market.

The first thing that I find to be noteworthy is the fact that sona masoori tends to be much lower in starch than standard rice and have less of a polished texture. This rice is also perfect for just about any dish that originates in the area in which it’s cultivated, so the fish curry dishes from Andhra Pradesh taste particularly good with this rice. These dishes include sweet pongal and biryani. I also love this rice in stir fries because the reduced starch reduces the amount of rice residue at the bottom of my wok.

Additionally, this rice has a slightly lower calorie count than standard long-grain rice; a 45 gram serving of the rice will have about four calories less than long grain, which is an amount that can add up for those who love a lot of rice in their diet. This is also a protein-rich variation of rice; per serving, you can expect about 45 grams of protein, which is higher than may other rice varieties.

Nutrition aside, this is also a rice that’s just easier to cook than most other rice varieties because of its shorter grain and low starch. As I mentioned, this rice is just excellent for stir-fries, and the rice works well in dishes that call for a bit of stickiness on the grains.

Additionally, I find that this rice just has a more vibrant flavor than other types of rice; while Jasmine rice may have that flowery taste, the taste of sona masoori is richer and more layered, which is why I use it in a wide variety of dishes that don’t call for it.

Which is Healthier: Sona Masoori or Basmati Rice?

In India, there’s just not a type of rice that’s more popular than basmati. That being said, which variety is healthiest, sona masoori or basmati? As I illustrated above, sona masoori is a rice variant that’s lower in calories and starch than most other varieties, including basmati. As a result, if you’re looking to cut calories and carbs, sona masoori is just the better option.

Additionally, Basmati is a more polished style of rice, which means that it may have a higher starch content than other rice types.

When it comes to stats, let’s take a look at the health breakdown between sona masoori and basmati (both of these are per cup):

Sona Masoori

  • Calories per serving: 160
  • Total Carbohydrates: 35 grams
  • Sodium: 0 grams
  • Saturated Fats: 0 grams


  • Calories per serving: 191
  • Total Carbohydrates: 39.85 grams
  • Sodium: 199 milligrams
  • Saturated Fats: 0.61 grams

It’s worth noting that basmati has a higher iron and calcium content than sona masoori. The absence of sodium is a major boon for sona masoori because 199 milligrams can add up in a diet.

Some Sona Masoori Recipes

As promised, here are a couple of great recipes that you can try with this type of rice:

Indian-Style Prepared Sona Masoori Rice

The use of spices like cardamom and cinnamon make this rice recipe pop. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two cups of sona masoori
  • Eight cups of water
  • Two teaspoons of salt
  • Two cardamom pods
  • Two cloves
  • One chopped onion
  • Three cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ of a teaspoon of dark mustard seeds
  • ½ of a teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • ¼ of a teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 of a teaspoon of chili flakes
  • Two cinnamon sticks
  • Three teaspoons of oil

Rinse the rice according to the directions mentioned above and allow the rice to rest for a full 15 minutes in a bowl of water. Once rested, in a large pot, boil the water and salt. Once boiling, add the rice, the cloves, the cardamom, and the cinnamon. Let this mixture simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked to your preferred texture.

Remove the spices and let the rice rest after washing it again in cold water. In a skillet, with the oil, sauté the seeds, chili flakes, and cumin. When the seeds begin to pop, add in the onion and fry until translucent and browning. Finally, throw in the garlic, the rice, and the turmeric and cook for about five minutes and serve.

Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetables with Fried Rice

I really love using this rice for fried rice, and this recipe allows me to avoid the extra step of aging the rice in the fridge for a few days before frying. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two cups of sona masoori
  • Two large chicken breasts
  • Five cups of water
  • Two teaspoons of soy sauce
  • One chopped onion
  • Three cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Three teaspoons of sesame oil
  • ½ of a teaspoon of fish oil

Rinse the rice twice and prepare it using the method described above. Slice the chicken into cubes. Next, in a large wok, heat the sesame oil. When it’s very hot, stir-fry the onions and garlic until they start to brown. Next, add in the chicken and cook until it turns white throughout.

Add the rice to the wok and after about two minutes frying, add in the soy sauce and the fish oil. You can also add a few extra splashes of sesame oil for flavor. Cook the rice for another five to 10 minutes or until the rice has started to brown – don’t forget to stir constantly.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you enjoyed my guide on sona masoori rice. This is a variety of rice that I think every rice-lover should try at least once. It’s especially delicious for anyone that is getting tired of standard long-grain or jasmine varieties since it has a different overall taste.


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

1 Comment

  1. Monica Rodriguez-Corona Reply

    I want to thank you very much for your thorough explanation of this type of Indian grain. For how kindly you share not only the details on the cooking but also the health properties of this Sona Masoori rice. First time user here 🙂
    Undoubtedly the best information out there on the internet.

    Be blessed, and keep the excellent job!

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