This Black Rice Salad has to be the most fun salad I’ve made so far. If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that I use several ingredients in each recipe, to bring together a variety of textures, flavours and colours into one (mostly) healthy package. So when I received a sample of Heirloom Black Rice from First Agro Farms, I wanted to showcase this intriguing grain and bring out its goodness, and at the same time to have the medley of taste and texture that I’m so fond of in all my recipes.
You may ask, what is intriguing about Rice? We in India have rice as a staple and use it in every possible way, so what’s new? Well, Black Rice is new, at least to me. The colour, the texture, the taste, the aroma when its bubbling on the stove….
A little time spent on the net gives interesting information: that Black Rice was first cultivated in China, some Ten thousand years ago, and for hundreds of years was reserved solely for the culinary pleasure of Chinese Royalty and noblemen: hence the name of Forbidden Rice or Emperors Rice, as its consumption was not permitted for the common people. The Rice was grown in limited quantities and the distribution carefully controlled.
Black rice may not be Black, it could be pinkish, brown, purple, grey, or shades in between. And of course, black! When cooked, some varieties may be glutinous and sticky, due to high levels of amylopectin ( a major component of starch, and made up of glucose units). The black colouring is due the presence of large amounts of anthocyanin, which is what makes for colourful purple grapes, blueberries, aubergine .. You get the picture?
Perhaps these ancient Chinese Emperors knew a thing or two: that this Black rice that they reserved for themselves, was considered highly nutritious, fabled to increase both health and longevity, and in fact called ‘tribute rice’ or ‘longevity rice’ during the Ming Dynasty. In India this rice is mostly grown in Manipur, and is available in some gourmet stores and on online stores, and if, like me, you are lucky enough to live in Bangalore, then you can get the Zero pesticide, non-GMO variety from First Agro Farms . I’m planning a number of recipes using Black Rice, it is tasty, healthy and different!
Health & Nutrition for the ingredients in this Black Rice Salad :
Like I always say, do check with your doctor for the individual suitability or otherwise of consuming any of these items, however ‘healthy’ they are said to be, specially when being treated for any illness.
Superfood Black Rice is rich in disease fighting antioxidants, contains vitamins like B1, B2, folic acid; essential amino acids such as lysine, tryptophan; minerals including iron, copper, zinc, calcium and phosphorus; anthocyanin- said to help lower the risk of heart attacks by preventing plaques from building up in the arteries, as well as to fight cancer; research is going on to support the view that consumption of black rice can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes and even Cancer. Low in calories, high in flavonoid phytonutrients, and a rich source of fibre as well as Vitamin E. Reference: Purple Rice Health Benefits
And not to forget the Cranberry Orange dressing, which I adapted from ‘Oh She Glows‘ Blog. Cranberries, Apple Cider Vinegar, Maple sugar, Fresh Orange juice, each with its nutrient benefits.
The rest of the Black Rice Salad is comprised of Red veined Sorrel and Bok Choy. Sorrel leaves are low calorie and low fat, and are rich in Vitamin A. One serving a day can take care of your Vitamin C daily recommendation. Reference: Sorrel
Bok choy contains selenium, a mineral which plays an important role in cognitive function, immunity and cancer prevention. Reference: Healthiest Leafy Greens
Now to stop sounding like my Biology text book and to get back to cooking the Black Rice and dishing up this Black Rice salad.
The quantities listed here are indicative, you could adjust the ingredients to your taste while making the Dressing. For the Black Rice Salad, I used gorgeous Black cherry tomatoes (which are green when you slice them), Red tomatoes, Yellow peppers, Bok Choy, Sorrel and a variety of herbs. Any other greens could be substituted. And you could use pine nuts or walnuts instead of the almonds.
I dry the salad greens and herbs in a salad spinner. If you make salads frequently, it would be good to invest in a sturdy salad spinner which lasts for some years. I use an Ikea salad spinner and its been value for money. Its amazing how much water is shaken off the leaves of lettuces and other greens, and my salads are now not soggy at all when I add the greens.
Other Recipes you may like to try on this blog:
Vanilla Apricot Black Rice Kheer – A delicious dessert
Black Rice Salad & Cranberry Orange Dressing
Cranberry Orange Dressing
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Maple syrup
- 2 Dried apricots
- 1.5 tablespoons Mustard paste
- 1/4 cup Fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons Fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Zest of orange
- 1/2 teaspoon Zest of lemon
- 1 teaspoon Fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Fresh ground pepper
- to taste Salt
- 1 cup Black Rice cooked
- 2 Tomatoes
- 6 Cherry tomatoes
- 1 Yellow Bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 bunch Salad Greens
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- 2 tablespoons Dill leaves
- 2 tablespoons Pomegranate ariels
- 10 Almonds
- 2 tablespoons Raisins
- 5 Dried apricots or a few
- To taste salt
To cook the Black Rice:
- Rinse the required measure of rice. Soak the rice with about double its measure of water, for at least 3 hours. The water in which the rice is soaked usually turns purple.
- Rinse and then cook with double its measure of water, first bringing it to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Turn off the stove, cover the rice and set aside till required. The rice I used turned a sticky purple after cooking.
- The Taste? A nutty, earthy flavour unlike any other rice I have had.
To make the Cranberry Dressing:
- Add the cranberries (fresh or frozen), maple syrup and vinegar to a pan and set to cook for about 7-10 minutes on a low flame, stirring occasionally so it does not 'catch' at the bottom of the pan. The cranberries will crackle and soften and wrinkle up and the juice will become syrupy.
- Remove from the stove and cool. Blend/puree the cranberry syrup with all the other ingredients, except for salt and pepper. Add a little salt and pepper, and taste. Add more lemon juice if you want to increase the tart taste.
- Set the Dressing in the fridge to chill. The dressing could be made a day earlier, to save time in making the salad.
To make the Black Rice Salad:
- Slice, add a few drops of olive oil and roast the red tomato and yellow pepper on a griddle pan or in the oven till they begin to char.
- Remove from the stove and set aside to cool. Wash the salad greens and herbs and dry them (I used a salad spinner), and tear to bite sized pieces, shred the herbs. Mix the herbs and greens together. The herbs are not for garnish, they are an integral part of the salad.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on the size. Roast the almonds and raisins in a hot pan for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Sliver the almonds ( I did not blanch them). Shred the dried apricots.
- Assemble the Black Rice Salad on individual serving plates, warming the rice just before doing this. Arrange the rice in the centre of the plate, setting the salad greens, tomatoes and peppers around the rice. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
- Garnish with almonds, raisins and pomegranates. The dressing may be poured on the salad according to individual tastes, and mixed into the salad. Serve with chunks of bread or focaccia