Ancient Grain Series: Forbidden Black Rice

2 by Andrea Devon Bertoli

black rice

Legend has it that this beautiful forbidden black rice was once only fed to the emperors of China. Lucky for us, it's available from cool companies like Lotus Foods, no dynasty required. At some health food stores you can even find it in the bulk section, which is surely the most affordable way to purchase it for us mere commoners.

Black rice is a short grain rice cultivated in China and Indonesia. The dark color (which turns dark purple when cooked) means that black rice is high in antioxidants– in amounts that rival antioxidant superstar blueberries! Not only that, as a whole grain it contains a huge amount of fiber, is rich in iron, and has a wide-range of amino acids. To learn more about the health benefits of black rice, check out this post on CNN.

To cook your black rice, soak 1 cup rice for one to two hours. Drain and rinse. Add 1½ cups fresh water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for half hour and let stand 15 minutes more.

You can serve your black rice as you would any other rice, but you might want to make this beautiful ancient grain the star of your next meal. Here are some recipe suggestions for black rice:

You can also swap black rice for quinoa in this Quinoa & Greens Salad. And finally, here is one of my favorite ways to cook this beautiful ancient grain, Burbur Injin, or Black Rice Pudding. Burbur Injin is an Indonesian black rice pudding that features coconut milk and coconut sugar for a sweet, healthy breakfast or snack.

Burbur Injin (Indonesian Black Rice Pudding)

1 cup Forbidden Black Rice
½ cup short grain brown rice
1¼ cups coconut milk
1 cup water
pinch salt
¼ cup coconut sugar (more to taste; substitute sucanat or brown sugar)
¼ cup coconut cream (see note)

  1. Soak black rice and brown rice for four hours in warm water. Drain water, and proceed with recipe.
  2. Heat coconut milk, water, and salt in medium-sized saucepan. Add soaked rice, bring to a boil, and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes, until rice is tender.
  3. While still hot, stir in palm sugar and let stand 15 minutes. Taste and add more sugar is you like.
  4. Serve in small bowls with a drizzle of coconut cream. Enjoy warm or cold.

Yields: 3-4 Servings

Note: For easy coconut cream, simply let a can of coconut milk sit overnight in the fridge. Do not shake the can. Carefully open and scoop cream off top; use remaining liquid for cooking rice. Coconut cream can also be found in the baking aisle.

black rice pudding




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