Black Is Beautiful
Have you ever tried black rice? I’m not talking about wild rice. While also delicious and healthful, wild rice is not technically even rice. Rather, it’s the seed of a type of grass (Zizania palustris), native to the Great Lakes region of North America, among other places.
Black rice, also called forbidden rice, or purple rice, was once considered so valuable, and special, that only the Emperor and his royal family in China were allowed to eat it. Hence the name, forbidden rice. But you should not be afraid to sample this culinary delicacy. Black rice gets its rich black color (which turns a glossy, deep purple/black after cooking) from anthocyanins, the same potent antioxidant plant compounds that make blueberries and blackberries so healthful.
Black rice is a short-grained variety of rice that has a nutty flavor, similar to brown rice. It can help dress up any ordinary dish where you might ordinarily use white or brown rice. It’s packed with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron and fiber, and has a low glycemic index, meaning that it will not cause your blood sugar to spike after eating it. Of course, it’s also gluten free, for those of you who are watching your intake of gluten. And there are only about 68 calories in a 20 g serving (about 0.7 ounces, uncooked).
While it may be slightly challenging to locate black rice, I highly recommend that you make the effort. It’s a great way to get more antioxidants into your diet, while adding some culinary interest to ordinary dishes. It’s more expensive than common rice varieties, but you’d expect that from the forbidden food of the ruling elite of Imperial China, wouldn’t you?