Recipes Beyond Borders- sometimes Exotic, mostly Healthy, always Delicious

Tag: superfood

Black Rice Salad, Cranberry Orange Dressing

Black Rice Salad, Cranberry Orange Dressing

100 Healthy Recipes Challenge: Recipe 1
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.

Black Rice

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. And 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 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 through their e-commerce unit,  Sakura Fresh. 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  (sourced from my friend Google): And 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.
And not to forget the Cranberry Orange dressing, which I adapted from ‘Oh She Glows‘ Blog. Cranberries, chock full of antioxidants, and with Vitamin C and Fibre; Apple Cider Vinegar, said to help in weight loss and in stabilizing Blood sugar specially in type 2 Diabetes. Maple sugar, which when compared to cane sugar, has the advantage of having antioxidants, zinc and manganese; Fresh Orange juice with Vitamin C and some Vitamin A as well as Calcium and Iron.

The rest of the Black Rice Salad:
Red veined Sorrel: Vitamins A and C, and potassium which helps in lowering Blood pressure and said to have anti inflammatory properties as well as being a diuretic.
Bok Choy: Said to contain 21 nutrients including antioxidant mineral Zinc and Omega-3s, rich in beta carotene and in Vitamin A.
Now to stop sounding like my Biology text book, let me get back to cooking the Black Rice and dishing up this Black Rice salad.

Black Rice Salad_for
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 fo lettuces and other greens, and my salads are now not soggy at all when I add the greens.
I’m giving the link to the kind of salad spinner I have. This is an affiliate link, and if you purchase through the link, I earn a small commission. I only recommend products that I trust.

Check out this cookbook from two of our versatile Food Bloggers, Ruchira Ramanujam and Ranjini Rao!


Vanilla Apricot Black Rice Kheer Payasam – a Festive Pudding

Vanilla Apricot Black Rice Kheer Payasam – a Festive Pudding

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Ganesh Chaturthi is around the corner and Onam too, and we are all busy planning special sweets and desserts. Make your festival meals exotic as well as healthy, with this Black Rice Kheer Payasam of Forbidden Black Rice flavoured with vanilla and enriched with apricots and pistachio. The result is a delicious festival treat, truly fit for the Gods! As the rice cooks, the aroma wafting through the house has to be experienced to be described! The kheer (pudding) is cooked on low heat for about 40 minutes after the rice is cooked in the pressure cooker. No ghee is used in this recipe. For a vegan version, substitute almond milk for the  dairy milk in the recipe.



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Peruvian Kiwicha Salad – Amaranth and Roasted Figs with Buttermilk Dressing

Peruvian Kiwicha Salad – Amaranth and Roasted Figs with Buttermilk Dressing

Before I take you through this recipe for  Peruvian Kiwicha Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, I must tell you a little about  Kiwicha, a  superfood and a form of Amaranth that went into  this delicious  and healthy salad. Kiwicha is native to Peru and was a staple food for the Incas, Aztecs and other communities more than 4000 years ago. The cultivation of kiwicha had come down drastically since the Spanish conquest and colonisation. Since 1970, the world is rediscovering an interest in this and other elements of Peruvian cuisine, many of which have been now found to be rich in nutrient and disease fighting properties. (more…)

Easy Kale and Onion Pizza – Healthy and Delicious

Easy Kale and Onion Pizza – Healthy and Delicious

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Making Pizza at home is a whiz, once you have got the making of the dough under control. You can experiment with all kinds of healthy, tasty toppings with fresh produce.  I usually make pizza dough from the easy recipe for Magic Bread Dough in the River Cottage Veg Everyday Cook book, and had been coming again and again to the recipe for Kale and Onion Pizza. As Kale is not usually available where I live, I could only look longingly at the pictures and then sigh and turn the page! Finally though, I did get to make the Kale and Onion Pizza.


Green Shakshuka with Kale & a Parsley Pesto

Green Shakshuka with Kale & a Parsley Pesto

I do love Shakshuka, and have so far made it only with tomatoes and peppers. When I saw this intriguing recipe for a green Shakshuka on Pinch of Yum, I wanted to try it out. The Pinch of Yum recipe uses Almond and Coconut milk, but I needed to use up all the greens in my fridge, the kale, the Swiss chard, the fresh herbs. I’ve been trying out a series of recipes with kale, so instead of almond milk, decided to make this with kale and with the parsley, coriander pesto described in the original recipe. I did add some Russian Tarragon too, to the Green Shakshuka . I should make this the Pinch of Yum way too, soon, it looked delicious. (more…)

Sarson Ka Saag – Flavourful Mustard Greens

Sarson Ka Saag – Flavourful Mustard Greens

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When Winter comes, can Sarson ka Saag be far behind! The ultimate greens dish, a classic from Punjab in Northern India. Mustard greens are cooked with spinach and bhatua saag and traditionally served with hot makki rotis, though they are great with phulkas or tandoori roti. Actually I like mine with hot rice and rasam!

Mustard greens are an ancient crop, grown in the Himalayan and sub Himalayan regions of the Indian Sub -continent, and have been known to have been cultivated  for more than 5,000 years. They are a popular ingredient in a wide range of cuisines, from Asian (including Japanese, Chinese Nepalese and Indian) to Southern American. They are generally available during the cold season, from November to March. In India, the Sarson ka Saag, a curry, is the most popular.

I have made sarson ka saag both with the regular Indian greens, and with the peppery pungent and delicious Mizuna or japanese mustard (Brassica rapa). Actually here in Bangalore, it is easier for me to source zero pesticide fresh Japanese mustard greens from First Agro Farms, rather than the  sarson ka saag from Northern India, which is not easily available.

Japanese Mustard at First
Japanese Mustard at First Agro Farms, Mysore

Health and Nutrition:

Mustard greens, (Botanical name Brassica juncea) are a veritable powerhouse of nutrients and cancer fighting properties. Low in calorific value (about 27 cals for every 100 gms of raw leaves), they are rich in dietary fibre as well as in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. The dietary fibre helps control cholesterol. The leaves have been known to have a high content of vitamin K which is an anti-inflammatory nutrient, and Scientists consider that Vitamin K  helps in bone mass building as well as in reducing neuro damage in the brain for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The greens are also a great source for other vitamins such as vitamin A (beta-carotene), Vitamins C, E, B6, B2 as well as minerals, copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium, magnesium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate as well as protein.

Cancer fighting properties:

Research suggests that Mustard greens are an excellent source of anti-oxidant like flavonoids, indoles, sulforaphane, carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. website states that Mustard greens contain Indoles, mainly di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane which have proven benefits against prostate, breast, colon and ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

The key phytonutrients in mustard greens or sarson ka saag, are said to give antioxidant support which can help lower the risk of oxidative stress in body cells, thereby reducing  cell damage and bringing down a risk factor in development of most cancer types.

Mustard greens helps the body to detox through its antioxidants nutrients, sulfur-containing nutrients and phytonutrients. Toxins building up in the body can increase the risk of cells turning cancerous, and hence consumption of these greens  can help to counter the ill effects of toxins.

The other ingredients all contribute to the nutritional values of this tasty curry.

Spinach is again, like mustard greens, a good source of fiber as well as magnesium, which is needed for healthy nerves and muscles.

Ginger, garlic and onions, which are the remaining ingredients, have anti-inflammatory benefits and are high in antioxidants.