Wednesday, May 10, 2006

History of "Patna" and "Rice"

Patna - The name

Etymologically, Patna derives its name from the word Pattan, which means port in Sanskrit. It may be indicative of the location of this place on the confluence of four rivers, which functioned as a port. It is also believed that the city derived its name from Patan Devi, the presiding deity of the city, and her temple is one of the shakti peethas.

One legend ascribes the origin of Patna to a mythological king, Putraka, who created Patna by a magic stroke for his queen Patali, literally Trumpet flower, which gives it its ancient name Pataligram. It is said that in honour of the first born to the queen, the city was named Pataliputra. Gram is the Sanskrit for a village and Putra means a son.

Patna (पटना) is the capital of the Indian state of Bihar, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world.Patna lies on the southern bank of the Ganges, as it flows past with the combined waters of the rivers Ghagra, Sone and Gandak. At the point where the city is located, the sacred Ganges looks more sea than river: mighty, wide and never-ending.

A bustling city of 1,200,000 people, the city is approximately 15 km long and 5 km to 7 km wide.Apart from being the administrative centre of the state and its historic importance, the city is also a major educational centre and medical centre.

Rice-The name

Oryza glaberrima
Oryza sativa

Rice refers to two species (Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima) of grass, native to tropical and subtropical southeastern Asia and to Africa. The seed is a grain (caryopsis) 5-12 mm long and 2-3 mm thick. The word rice derives from the Tamil word arisi.

Rice cultivation is considered to have begun simultaneously in many countries over 6500 years ago. Two species of rice were domesticated, Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and African rice (Oryza glaberrima).

It is believed that common wild rice, Oryza rufipogon, was the wild ancestor of Asian rice , O. sativa appears to have originated around the foothills of the Himalayas, with O. sativa var. indica on the Indian side and O. sativa var. japonica on the Chinese side.

O. sativa was adapted to farming in the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe around 800 BCE. The Moors brought it to the Iberian Peninsula when they conquered it in 711 CE. After the middle of the 15th century, rice spread throughout Italy and then France, later propagating to all the continents during the great age of European exploration. In 1694, rice arrived in South Carolina, probably originating from Madagascar. The Spanish brought rice to South America at the beginning of the 18th century.

In the United States, colonial South Carolina and Georgia grew and amassed great wealth from the slave labour obtained from the Senegambia area of West Africa. At the port of Charleston, through which 40% of all American slave imports passed, slaves from this region of Africa brought the highest prices, in recognition of their prior knowledge of rice culture, which was put to use on the many rice plantations around Georgetown, Charleston, and Savannah. From the slaves, plantation owners learned how to dike the marshes and periodically flood the fields.

At first the rice was milled by hand with wooden paddles, then winnowed in sweetgrass baskets (the making of which was another skill brought by the slaves). The invention of the rice mill increased profitability of the crop, and the addition of water power for the mills in 1787 by millwright Jonathan Lucas was another step forward. Rice culture in the southeastern U.S. became less profitable with the loss of slave labour after the American Civil War, and it finally died out just after the turn of the 20th century.

Rice cultivars are often classified by their grain shapes and texture.
For example, Thai Jasmine rice is long-grain and relatively less sticky, as long-grain rice contains less amylopectin than short-grain cultivars. Chinese restaurants usually serve long-grain as plain unseasoned steamed rice. Japanese mochi rice and Chinese sticky rice are short-grain. Chinese people use sticky rice which is properly known as "glutinous rice" (which does not contain dietary gluten) to make zongzi. The Japanese table rice is a sticky, short-grain rice.
Japanese sake rice is another kind as well.

Indian rice cultivars include long-grained and aromatic Basmati (grown in the North), long and medium-grained Patna rice and short-grained Masoori. Rice in East India and South India, is usually prepared by boiling the rice in large pans immediately after harvesting and before removing the husk; this is referred to in English as parboiled rice. It is then dried, and the husk removed later. It often displays small red speckles, and has a smoky flavour from the fires.

Aromatic rices have definite aromas and flavours; the most noted cultivars are the aforementioned basmati, Patna rice, and a hybrid cultivar from America sold under the trade name, Texmati. It is a cross between Basmati and American long-grained rice that is creating great controversy. Both Basmati and Texmati have a mild popcorn-like aroma and flavour.

Draft genomes for the two most common rice cultivars, indica and japonica, were published in April 2002. Rice was chosen as a model organism for the biology of grasses because of its relatively small genome (~430 megabase pairs). As a result rice was the first plant or animal to have its complete genome mapped . Basmati rice is the oldest, common progenitor for most types.

No comments: