Bhutanese Red Rice is a partially-milled short grain rice grown in the Himalayan mountains. Because it is partially milled it still retains most of the bran and cooks in only 20 minutes. The rice has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. There are only about 200 remaining farmers of this rice and of that total yield only between 1-15% of that total is sold commercially so you can understand why it is is hard to find.
Use the red rice steamed as a side dish or combine with other foods to make a pilaf, risotto, or as an addition to a salad. Local Bhutanese make a crunchy, sweet snack out of the rice called zow (read about how this is made and served; including a recipe).
If you want to learn more about this rice, read this interesting article in Gastro Obscura online.
We found this rice in a local specialty market but it will be most likely hard to find locally for you depending on where you live. Since that first time we tried this rice many years ago; Lotus Foods started distributing a heritage Bhutan variety of the rice under their well-know brand. Look for this rice at Whole Foods Markets. And when in doubt, head on over to Amazon.com where you may find a couple suppliers of the Bhutanese Red Rice.
The varieties we typically find in the US are darker red and "chewier" when prepared than the Bhutan-grown rice. Some of the rices are described as "Himalayan Style" red rice. While these rices are not the "real deal" many are quite flavorful; beautiful rices.
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area you try the Himalayan Grocery in El Cerito, California. (510) 679-5101
NPR offers a nice red rice recipe for serving this specialty rice. In short, the rice is sauteed first in fat (butter) with aromatics (onion) then warmed stock is added and the rice is simmered about 20 minutes. The rice should still have a slightly chewy texture. Also, see our red rice pilaf recipe below.
If you can't find Bhutanese Red Rice or just don't feel like going on a rice search: