Black rice – the not so forbidden rice!

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Black rice, you must have heard of this variation of rice, right? Did you know that black rice contains the highest level of antioxidants and provides more protein than brown rice? Well, this unpolished variety of rice is quickly making its way from obscurity to international fame for its health benefits. Here’s why.

Forbidden Rice in China

Black rice or forbidden rice, like the name suggests has always been exquisite in nature. In China, this variety of rice was so scarce and special – it was cultivated only for royalty. For the regular village folk, who were forbidden to eat it, it came to be known as forbidden rice. Legend also has it that they were made to believe the rice was of a poisonous variety – hence the black colour.

Indian Variety

Black rice may be famous in China, but India too has been growing its own variety for years! The Chakhao Amubi is a type of sticky black rice indigenous to the North Eastern State of Manipur. ‘Chakho’ means delicious while ‘Ambui’ means black. The rice grains are used to make a number of sweet and savory porridges.

Fibre rich

Being an unpolished variety of rice the fibre content in black rice is very high, which is one of the biggest reasons for it being super healthy. The high fibre content in this variety of rice means that even a small portion of it keeps you full for longer periods of time. It also aids digestion.


One of the best ways to find out whether an ingredient is rich in antioxidants is the colour – the deeper the hue, more the antioxidants. This holds true for several healthy foods like beets, carrots, leafy greens and even grains like black rice. The antioxidants in black rice help in a number of ways – from preventing heart disease by reducing levels of bad cholesterol to even fighting cancer.

Fancy Food

Black rice may be a humble variety of unpolished rice, but the unique colour always makes it stand out. You can easily replace white rice with black rice in any recipe and instantly make it look exotic. Moreover the starch after cooking the rice has a dark colour too – which can easily replace food-dyes in a number of preparations. Even a few lightly toasted rice grains as a garnish with make a great visual impact on your final dish.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.