5 reasons you must try black rice

And 5 dishes you can make with it

Black Rice has been a matter of skeptic curiosity for a lot of us because of the novelty of the variety. If you are one of those sitting on the fence, here are a few interesting facts about the superfood that might help you take the plunge:

1. Black Rice has a sweet, nutty flavour
The relatively sticky texture of black rice might take time getting used to, but the mildly sweet taste and nutty aroma makes the transition easy. It is usually recommended you start using black rice, at least at first as a replacement in sweet recipes that require sticky rice.

2. Anthocyanin gives black rice its colour and its superpowersAnthocyanin is a compound naturally present in food items. It is the pigment that gives everything from brinjals to blackberries their colour. The anthocyanin present in black rice makes it anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and full of antioxidants which attack the free radicals in your body. From good eyesight and better heart health, to better digestion and a low GI, black rice has every superpower to deserve the superfood title it owns.

3. Anthocyanin has been linked to slowing down of cognitive declineA significant study over a period of 6 years with 16,000 participants found that prolonged consumption of anthocyanin-rich food slowed down the rate of cognitive decline, a natural part of the aging process by up to 2.5 years. While this research studied the consumption of berries as the source of anthocyanin, black rice can be a more substantial way to include the flavonoid in your diet.

4. Black rice aids in weight loss through calorie controlBlack rice is rich in fiber and has a low glycemic index. A great outcome of this combination is that it leaves you feeling full long after you complete a meal. While this will help reduce your between-meals cravings and reduce the calorie intake, the protein and iron in black rice makes it a healthy, nutritious choice.

5. Black Rice is naturally gluten freeTechnically all rice is gluten-free and thus becomes a great choice for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease; however, black rice brings a multitude of other benefits with it that make it the best choice among the rice varieties.

Let’s say you bought the rice and are ready to show off your cooking skills. There is one basic difference between white and black rice when it comes to the cooking process. Black rice needs to be soaked for at least a few hours (overnight, if possible) for an even cook time. The amount of water and the method of cooking will, of course, depend on the brand of rice and the recipe you are going for.  Nevertheless, here are 5 basic food items that you can start with when it comes to black rice:

1. Puddings
The starchy nature of black rice makes it perfect for the creamy texture you look for in desserts like puddings. From traditional Thai sticky rice pudding to the common Indian kheer, black rice can be a replacement in any sweet with its velvety texture and the visual interest it will bring. But if you are looking for traditional black rice recipes rather white rice mere replacements, desserts might be the best place to start. With Chettinad’s kavuni arisi sweet and Manipur’s Chak-hao kheer, you can never go wrong.

2. Salad grains
When introducing your family to a new type of grain, an entire rice bowl might be a little too overwhelming. A better option would be to add it to salads as a grain. It will add texture and  nutrition to the dish. You may choose to wash the rice more thoroughly and strain and rinse it in cold water once cooked to make it less starchy and sticky.

3. Rice-based dishes
From pulao and biryani to fried rice, any dish requiring precooked rice can be enhanced with black rice. Just ensure you use the pasta method of cooking mentioned earlier to avoid lumpy rice.

4. Rice bowls
A lot of people see rice bowls as either a boring and disconnected dish due to the bland nature of rice itself, or they see it as an unhealthy dish due to the main ingredient being the carbohydrate-rich rice. Replacing the white rice with black rice solves both of these issues. The sweet, nutty flavour of the rice makes it a delectable replacement while the low GI makes it a healthy one.

5. Sushi
We have to end with a tribute to the country that is the birthplace of the original black rice strain – Japan. The sticky texture of black rice lends itself to become an easy replacement for white rice in sushi recipes. Just soak the rice and go about the cooking process as you normally would.

There you have it; 5 reasons you should be adding the ‘forbidden rice’ to your diet and 5 ways you can do so. Have fun with your culinary experiments; rest assured, the end product will be nutritious!