Black rice, also known as forbidden rice is an heirloom variety that is black when raw but turns purple when cooked. Its black pigment is attributed to its high anthocyanin content, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that has been associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. (And this study identified the mechanism by which the anthocyanins in black rice suppress the metastasis of breast cancer cells.) Moreover, when it comes to antioxidant supremacy, black rice has been found to be…
just as potent as blueberries (but more affordable)!
Black rice is high in iron, vitamin E and is a good source of fibre. It also has more protein and less starch than all other types of rice. In fact, the superior nutritional profile of black rice is precisely why it was reserved for Chinese royalty.
The good news is that it’s now readily available in most health food stores and dry goods suppliers. If you’re yet to try black rice, head out and get some so that you can make this delicious black rice pudding!
The secret to perfect black rice pudding
It’s homemade coconut milk. (Don’t be scared.. it’s very easy.) It only takes a few minutes to whip up and will take your rice pud to the next level – both in terms of flavour and nutrition. Get my recipe and have a go – I promise you will love it!
The other secret is to soak your rice prior to cooking with it. Soaking grains in an acidic medium for 4-24 hours doesn’t take much planning and it boosts the bioavailability of the nutrients contained within them. (Which basically means they can be more easily absorbed by our bodies). It also speeds up the cooking time and limits the potentially harmful effects of anti-nutrients like phytic acid, or toxins the grains might contain.
For sweet dishes like this one, taste-wise it’s best to use whey. If you’re dairy free, you could use coconut kefir or raw apple cider vinegar. Use 1 tablespoon per cup of rice, with plenty of water to cover and leave it out at room temperature.
Good, better, best, on the soaking front
I wanted to present some additional options for maximising the available nutrients in this dish. It all depends how much inclination you have in pimping your rice! The above suggestion is an improvement on un-soaked rice and other grains and great for anyone struggling to wrap their head around soaking in the first place. If you’re new to all this – stick with that.
However there’s a couple of little tricks that help to increase the effectiveness of the soaking process: this fermentation method or by simply adding a tablespoon of wholemeal rye or wheat flour to your soaking bowl. (The flour will be rinsed off, however do omit this step if you’re strictly gluten-free.) Let me explain why we do this.
Whenever we soak grains, one of the things we’re aiming to do is ‘wake up’ the phytase enzyme, so that it can help break down phytic acid. Unfortunately, rice is low in phytase but high in phytates, making the regular acid-soak less effective than it is for other grains. Rye and wheat contain the highest and second highest levels of phytase respectively, so by adding a little flour to your soaking bowl, we provide enough of the enzyme to get the job done.
If you really wanted to take it to the next level, germinating your rice before consumption offers maximum nutrition and has been shown to suppress weight gain in this animal study. I’ll do a how-to-germinate-rice post soon. In the meantime, there is one very cool company doing the hard work for you with brown rice – which works just as well with the below recipe. (Not an affiliate, just a fan).
This is a delicious, warming dish that makes the perfect Winter comfort food. If you reduce the sweetener, it can be enjoyed as a filling snack or breakfast pudding. Remember - the chilli is optional, so feel free to leave it out if you're making this recipe for kids.
- 1 cup black rice, soaked if possible
- 3 cups water (soaked rice) or 5 cups (unsoaked)
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp sweet spice blend (see notes)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder (optional)
- 1-2 slices of fresh ginger (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla powder (or 2 tsp essence)
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or other sweetener
- 1 cup homemade coconut milk (or 1/2 cup canned coconut milk)
- Extra coconut milk & toasted coconut to garnish
- Rinse your rice well and place it in a medium saucepan with the water, salt, spices, chilli & ginger and bring it to the boil over high heat.
- Cover, reduce to medium heat and simmer until the rice is well-cooked, stirring occasionally. (Around 45 minutes for soaked rice or 60 for unsoaked)
- Add the coconut milk, vanilla and maple syrup in the last 5 minutes, stirring to combine.
- Garnish each bowl with a spoonful of coconut milk and some toasted coconut flakes.
Sweet spices: You can use any sweet blend that you like. Chai or chinese five spice work well, or you could simply use 1/2 a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, clove and ginger.
I am BESOTTED with a blend from Herbies Spices called 'Fragrant sweet spices' which is coriander, cassia, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, poppy seeds, cloves, cardamom and rose petals. Who doesn't want rose petals in their pudding?! :-)