This is a story from the days when certain types of foods were restricted to people belonging to royalty. Black rice has a rich cultural history. Called “Forbidden” or “Emperor’s” rice, it was reserved for the Emperor in ancient China and used as a tribute food. In the time since, it remained popular in certain regions of China and recently has become prized worldwide for its high levels of antioxidants. Oral history suggests that only the richest of the rich were able to afford the delicacy.
Nowadays, you don’t have to be a royal to eat this grain. Make sure you do buy the organic variety though. How does it taste? Black rice is delicious, it has a mild, earthy flavor. Similar to white or brown rice, it takes on any flavor you give it, quite well. The texture is a bit dense to the bite, almost like a brown rice. You cook it like regular rice until tender (it won’t be as tender as white rice, but a little bit of time spent in soaking the rice before cooking will go a long way).
That dark color in black rice is due to an excess of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that’s the culprit for most darkly colored plants. Dark purple eggplant? Anthocyanin. Same with blueberries, black berries, purple grapes, along with the colored versions of normally paler plants like purple cauliflower, purple corn, and blood oranges.
It’ll also turn the water you cook it in a deep, lovely purple, which is fun. Go try it! You should be able to find organic forbidden rice in the bulk section of your local grocery store. Else, find it online here.
Now, let’s talk about the vegetables. You can use any veggies that can stay crunchy-ly (spell check tells me this is not a real word, LOL!) crispy when stir fried under high heat. Bok choy, all colored bell peppers, green and yellow squash, celery etc. are great choices. I also throw in a handful of greens (spinach, kale, chard or arugula) at the very end of the stir fry process. A little bit of tamari sauce ends up making these veggies delectable. You can also add sriracha or peanut sauce as a ‘dressing’ if you desire.
Don’t forget the toasted sesame seeds. Really, don’t. This dish won’t taste the same without them. And you must trust me on this one. Lightly toast black or white sesame seeds (I like white for the stark contrast it affords) and sprinkle.
If you love delicious, healthy recipes, do check out some of my favorite one-dish meals:
- Sautéed Sprouts and Vegetables
- Summery Quinoa Salad
- Cauliflower ‘Rice’
- Broccoli Corn Stir Fry
- Egg Tomato Spicy Rice
One of the rarest varieties of rice, black rice doesn’t just look pretty—it’s full of antioxidant called anthocyanin, which may support heart and brain health, and vitamin E, which supports eye and skin health and the immune system. Its antioxidants are both fat and water-soluble, allowing them to potentially benefit multiple parts of the body. Black rice contains more fiber, iron, and protein than regular brown rice, and especially white rice. Combine this with high fiber, rainbow colored veggies, this makes for a very satisfying meal.
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Forbidden Rice Stir Fry
- 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil Cold Pressed
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Fresh, Crushed
- 1/2 Cup Onions
- 1 Green Chili Or to taste
- 1/4 Cup Red Bell Pepper Cut into 1" cubes
- 1/4 Cup Green Bell Pepper Cut into 1" cubes
- 1/4 Cup Zucchini Cut into 1" cubes
- 1 Cup Bok Choy Shredded
- 1 Tablespoon Tamari Sauce
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt Or to taste
- 1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds Lightly toasted
- 1 Cup Forbidden Black Rice
Stir Fry Veggies:
- Heat sesame oil in the thick bottomed pan for 30-60 seconds on medium heat
- Add minced garlic and sauté until lightly browned. Add chopped onions, green chilis and mix until onions are done
- Add chopped veggies and stir fry until veggies are crisply done
- Add tamari sauce and salt to taste. Remember, tamari is salty to begin with
Black Forbidden Rice
- Wash black rice well. Cook 1-part Black Forbidden Rice in 2 parts water. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Then, leaving covered, remove the pot from the heat, let sit for 15 minutes. You can also use a rice cooker to make the rice
- Fluff well with a fork
- Serve rice on a dinner plate. Pile up stir fry veggies, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on the rice. You can also add a little bit of peanut sauce or sriracha sauce to spice it up. Serve hot