Well, first of all it is different; perhaps not to Asian cultures, but certainly different and rather exotic to those of us not incredibly familiar with all Asian foods. Second, the dark color is an indicator of nutrients. Specifically, anthocyanins, which give the rice its dark purple, almost black appearance.
Anthocyanins are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to improve serum lipid profiles which includes cholesterol and triglyceride readings. Studies have analyzed the action of anthocyanin-extract specifically from black rice and have found the above beliefs to be supported.
In addition the iron content in black rice is higher than for other varieties of rice. However, when we consider iron from plant sources such as rice, we also have to consider the bioavailability of the iron. Iron from plant sources is considered non-heme iron and is not always readily absorbed by the body. It is good to know, however, that consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C helps our body absorb more non-heme iron.
Along with its interesting nutritional makeup, black rice has a very rich history that is quite difficult to verify. It is believed that in ancient times it was only to be consumed by Emperors of China giving it the name, forbidden rice. Fortunately for us it is no longer forbidden. It is becoming more and more popular and easier to find in supermarkets.
I decided that this time around I really just wanted to taste and experience the rice itself so I didn’t add it to a complex recipe. I actually pulled a tip from the recipe for Forbidden Black Rice Salad from Lotus Foods. I didn’t have any of the veggies in for the full salad so I simply tossed my rice in sesame oil and soy sauce after it cooked.
Black rice is a medium grain rice so I didn’t cook it much differently than I do the white rice we use so often in Brazil. I cooked one cup of the rice for a few minutes in a bit of olive oil. Then I added 2 cups of water and allowed to it simmer, covered, stirring it occasionally. It took about 25 minutes for it to cook.
The first thing you will notice when cooking it is the smell. It was amazing, filling the apartment with a warm, nutty aroma. It immediately told me that I was not going to be disappointed with this find.
After it had cooked I tossed the rice in the combination of oil and soy sauce. The flavor was perfect. The dressing gave it an even greater nutty, salty taste and it went very well with the salmon I was having for lunch.
Have you tried black rice yet?
Here are a couple interesting posts about black rice from around the blogging world. Enjoy!