[Every Thursday in August, we will feature recipes that use native varieties of rice from across India. Native rice is better adapted to local climatic conditions and tolerant to poor soils and harsh weather, making it one of the most ecologically sound food choices in a changing environment.]
Black Rice or Forbidden Rice
The unusual black rice or forbidden rice is a variety of traditional rice whose cultivation began and spread from China close to 10,000 years ago. The rice earned its epithet because it was once reserved to be cooked for the Chinese Emperor owing to its rich nutritional and medicinal properties. Its colour - more a dark shade of purple than black - derives from antioxidant rich pigments in its bran called anthocyanins which are the same pigments responsible for the colour of eggplants and blueberries.
In India, the leading producer of black scented rice is Manipur where the rice is called Chak-Hao and enjoyed as kheer or pudding, well-suited to its nutty flavour and sticky mouthfeel. Besides being cooked and eaten as plain rice, it can also be processed into noodles.
Here's a recipe for Black Rice pudding:
What you'll need
- 1 cup black rice soaked for a minimum of 6 hours or better overnight. The longer it's soaked, the faster it cooks.
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- An inch of cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 1 banana sliced
- 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
In a pan, add the soaked rice, the soak water and cinnamon stick and cook it covered on a low flame until all the water dries up and the rice is soft and slightly mushy. Add in the coconut milk and cook on a low flame. Gradually, the pudding will start to thicken. Now, add the palm sugar and mix well. Put off the flame and set it aside to cool down.
To serve, coat the banana slices with palm sugar. Slightly roast the sugar coated banana slices on a hot tawa for 30 seconds on each side. Lay out the slices over the rice pudding and serve.
*The black rice and palm sugar were bought at Buffalo Back in Bengaluru.
(The Good Food Guide brings you weekly recipes for wholesome meals that you can easily cook at home. The guide is published in partnership with My Learning Game.)