Once upon a time, it was food for the Royal in China! And now essential food for the health conscious. A blood tonic in traditional Chinese medicine. We are talking about the black or red rice. A rich source of antioxidants, contains dietary fiber, anti-inflammatory properties, and has the ability to help stop the development of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and even weight gain.
It’s not fussy, flamboyant or polished. Largely grown in Manipur and respectable bit in Assam, it is an ideal superfood: hardy, nutty and indigenous.
How cool is it for chefs to play around with such a comforting grain? “Absolutely delightful,” says chef Ansab of Burma Burma who likes to focus on balanced bowl meals with black rice served along with white peas and pickled vegetables. He explains, “Sourcing black and red rice which is completely organic and grown by the tribals in Manipur and Assam, we like to emphasise on healthy food. In our preparation, the black rice is tossed with some dry red chilli and sesame seeds, followed by the white peas tossed in garlic and vegetables like broccoli, carrots, baby corn are pickled and tossed with mustard seeds.”
While chef Sagar Bajaj from Plum by Bentchair articulates a combination of healthy baked fish with the pan-fried black rice, chef Harangad Singh of Prankster offers black fried rice with assorted vegetables in chilly pepper sauce. He says, “The flavours of veggies amalgamated with crispiness of black rice narrates its own story of robust flavours.” Chef Aashish Singh of Nueva is very fond of this powerhouse grain and keeps trying to prepare new dishes with it. “My regular diners like my dish Oven Baked Sole where I use black and red rice and they simply love it,” he says.
On his recent trip to Vietnam, chef Vaibhav Bhargava of Molecule Air Bar discovered an interesting salad dish with black rice and corn. That gave him the cue to prepare it in his signature style as he loves to experiment with unconventional combinations.
So, next time when you are flipping through the menu and you notice a dish with black rice, give it a try. You will relish this feisty grain, loaded with healthy properties.