Forbidden rice or Forgotten rice?

Black rice, is more interestingly referred to as forbidden rice because there is a story attached to its name. It has been a feature in Asian diets for thousands of years, valued for its rich antioxidant quality.

Legends say that, noble Chinese men took every grain of black rice into their possession, banning its consumption for those who were not royalty, hence the name, Forbidden Rice. Aren’t we glad that we live in 21st century? Although black rice is no longer forbidden in current times, its cultivation is still done in small quantities.

Ever wondered that what makes an eggplant dark purple or what gives blueberries, acai berries their deep rich color? The culprit is Anthocyanin. It deserves recognition for its antioxidant properties and is found in a variety of foods, including forbidden rice.

In India, Black Rice is a glutinous rice variety cultivated in Manipur and the name ChakhaoAmubi originates from the Manipuri language. By diving the word, ‘Chakhao’ means delicious and ‘amubi’ means black, thus translating the name to ‘delicious black rice’. It is believed that the cultivation of Black rice started with the earliest people who settled in Manipur.

Nutrition, consumption, & delights

Black rice is now widely considered as a ‘super food’ by researchers and scientists. Black rice contains 18 different amino acids, copper, carotene and several other essential vitamins. A spoonful of black rice contains more health promoting Anthocyanin antioxidants than in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, more fiber and Vitamin E antioxidants. The antioxidants rich grain has high potential in fighting heart diseases, cancer and several other lifestyle diseases. This out of the ordinary grain has found a special place in the community feasts of Manipur where it is considered as a ceremonial food. When cooked, it loses its black color and turns into a deep purple color with a mild nutty taste. It is used for making porridge, bread, traditional Chinese black rice cake and even noodles nowadays.

So, if you rave over rice but crave complex carbs, you’ve probably thought your only option was a reluctant swap to brown rice. Make this as your weight loss partner and a natural detoxifying agent for your body. So, next time whenever you throw a party, have a detox week by consuming Black rice.


Black rice is fast finding its unique place in cuisines around the globe and could very well find itself on the everyday menu of homes across India. However it has been picked up now by many popular restaurants and is gradually making its way into the exotic diet plans of many of the health conscious. Its chewy texture and nutty flavor makes it possible for it to be used to make black flat noodles, sushi, puddings etc. We can also use this in a number of everyday Indian dishes such as kheer, payasum, idlis too.

Tips to cook

Cooking black rice is as easy as cooking other kinds of rice. You can use a 2 to 1 ratio of water to rice, and after the water comes to boiling point, add the rice and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed. Altough, Black rice takes longer to cook than white rice so to cut down on cooking time, soak it overnight or much before you start cooking. You can also cook a batch in advance and keep it in the refrigerator for several days and then can use it in varied dishes over the week. Black rice can be simply replaced with white rice in recipes and dishes for a more interesting presentation as well as a nutrition boost.To start with black rice, prepare it in smaller portions and introduce it during regular meals till you adjust to the taste.

Let’s simply put, when you look at the rice varieties, look at the color of the rice, the darker the shade of rice, the more nutrition it has. By following this yardstick ‘Black Rice’ is the gold standard in rice varieties. It is a complex carb, which means it has more fiber than simple carbs like white rice, it's "better for you."


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