Rice, the world staple food comes in many colours and sizes. This edible starchy cereal grain is consumed by 95 per cent of the world human population and in the recent times, it acquired new hues, flavours, textures, even as we discovered its nutritional profile, like never before. Well, white rice, red rice and brown rice are nothing new but if you are fancying it in other colours, without compromising on its taste, goodness, read on.

Please welcome black or purple rice in all its grandeur. Yep. You read it right. Black or Purple rice is a glutinous rice belonging to the species Oryza sativa and is available in various types. Popularly known as ‘Forbidden rice’ or ‘Emperor’s rice’, it was only served to the kings and the members of the royal family in ancient China. This particular variety with intense, deep black colour turns purple when cooked, owing to the presence of anthocyanin in the bran hull. The purple rice matches brown rice when it comes to fibre and exudes mild, nutty taste. There are many varieties available in purple rice across the globe, including Indonesian black rice, Philippine heirloom balatinaw black rice, Thai jasmine black rice, pirurut ong black glutinous rice. In India, it is produced widely in Manipur where it goes with the name chak-hao. Bangladeshis call this kalo dhaner chaal and is used for making pulao and various rice-based desserts.

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Brown rice in a bowl and in a spoon

What Is The History of Black/Purple Rice?

Historians believe that black or purple rice dates to 10,000 years and its dark colour is due to excessive amounts of anthocyanin just like in the case of purple eggplant, blueberries. It is believed that this particular variety of rice originated from one single crop in China, thousands of years ago and the farmers then continued producing it in larger amounts, from that one single batch. Surprising it may sound, growing black or purple rice is extremely tricky and it was affordable only to the crème de la crème of the society, until recently.

A recent study by the Japanese researchers revealed that it is one specific gene that triggered the production of anthocyanin in large quantities, that led to the origin of black rice. The scientists after examining 21 black rice varieties concluded that it has happened due to a mutation, a natural occurrence thus ushering hopes of producing it in larger quantities for human consumption.

Black or purple rice has become a common commodity in the supermarket shelves, thanks to its delicious, nutty, tasty flavours that go well right from biriyanis, porridges, breads, noodles and even cakes.

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Black Rice In Ayurveda:

Though black rice is native to China, it is no stranger to India. Referred as Njavara in Ayurveda, it is believed that consuming this rice aids in quick recovery from diseases like spondylitis, back pain, paralysis, arthritis, building immunity and for strengthening the body from within.
Purple rice in a bowl

Nutrition In Black Rice:

Black or purple rice is a rich source of various nutrients including Vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin, beta-carotene, calcium, manganese, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, lutein, chromium, lutein, zeaxanthin. For every 100 grams, it provides 9 grams of protein, 160 calories with the glycemic index just at 43.

Consume it daily to meet your protein and fibre requirements. The daily recommendation of fibre for men is 40 grams while it is 25 grams for women. It has more iron content than brown rice and is completely gluten-free.

Nutritional Content for 100 grams of cooked rice:

Fat: 2.35 g

Saturated Fat: 0.476 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 12 mg

Total Carbohydrates: 72.41 g

Dietary Fibre: 2.8 g

Sugar: 0.68 g

Proteins: 9.5 g

Iron: 1.13 mg

Potassium: 186 mg

Calcium: 16 mg

(Source: Internet)
Black rice drink

Health Benefits of Black Rice:

Antioxidant Rich:

Purple rice is unpolished variety making it an ideal choice for mindful eaters. Besides iron, fibre, protein, and good carbs, this deep coloured rice is also antioxidant rich, thanks to the presence of anthocyanin, owing to the phytonutrient present on the outer skin or bran. The antioxidants play a pivotal role in preventing heart disease, various types of cancer, elimination of free radicals thus contributing to the overall wellbeing.

Fights Diabetes:

Diabetes mellitus or high blood sugars is a chronic health condition and is often triggered due to poor dietary, lifestyle habits. One of the strong recommendations made by doctors and nutritionists alike to the diabetics is foregoing rice from the daily diet. Relax! Choose purple rice over other polished rice varieties like white rice to slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood, for preventing sudden spikes and keep you satiated for longer hours.

Also Read: Red Rice: Types, Nutritional Content, Health Benefits, Recipes And Side Effects

Aids Weight Loss:

Want to lose weight but love your rice? Grab a bowl full of purple rice to do away with those extra fat deposits. The rich fibre content in the cooked black rice keeps you full, satisfied for longer hours, prevents mid-day hunger pangs, restricting the full absorption of sugars into the blood stream thus triggering weight loss.

Improves Gut Health:

Your overall physical wellbeing is defined by your gut health, and it often depends on intake of food that is rich in fibre, less spicy and nutritious. Right food generates digestive juices that aid in proper digestion, absorption of nutrients, prevent constipation, diarrhea and flatulence. Being rich in fibre, black rice improves digestive activity, maintains good bacteria in the gut region besides regulating bowel movements.

Prevents Cancer:

Purple rice is loaded with enormous amounts of antioxidants and according to scientists, consumption of this unique product flushes out free radicals from the body. It protects arteries by preventing the building up of plaque, gives body all necessary nutrients thus reducing the risk of cancer. Regular consumption of black rice also restricts the development and mutation of cancer cells.

Protects Cardiac Function:

Heart is a vital organ in the human body, on which our overall wellbeing dependent upon. Consumption of foods that are high on carbs, sugars may cause various cardiovascular problems at a larger stage including high blood pressure, high sugars and bad cholesterol. By choosing black rice one can get good amounts of fibre, protein, which protect heart from various diseases.

Flushes Out Toxins:

Black or purple rice is completely gluten-free, low on fat but is packed with all essential nutrients that play a pivotal role in detoxifying the body. A healthy body free of toxins reduces stress on vital organs including kidneys, liver and heart to a greater extent, helping them to function at the optimum level.

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Black Rice For Skin and Hair:

The benefits of black or purple rice are incredible not just for your health but also for beauty. Rich in Vitamin E, antioxidants and amino acids, this is your best bet to maintain your skin and hair.

The high concentration of amino acids and anthocyanin ensures healthy skin, glow from within, maintain elasticity and bring down signs of ageing. The protein regulates and restores the skin elasticity by making it firm and healthy.

Even today, it is a traditional practice in Chinese households to wash hair with fermented black rice water for growing stronger, healthier mane. The Yao women hailing from the Chinese village Hunagluo believe in the goodness of black rice water for growing long hair, which earned their place a moniker “World’s Longest Hair Village.” It is said that cleansing hair regularly with this water not only keeps the hair stronger but also dark and scalp super clean. Inositol, a component present in this water strengthens the follicles, brings down the hair fall, prevents split ends, dandruff besides ensuring regrowth.

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How To Cook Black Rice?

Cooking black rice is a little tricky procedure. Glutinous in nature, this sticky rice takes more time than the usual white rice or brown rice. One of the popular methods is to soak 1 cup of rice in enough water overnight and pressure cook it for 3 to 4 whistles.

You can cook it directly in a large pan on the stove. Add 6 cups of water for 1 cup of rice and allow it cook slowly. Discard excess water, but it is a time-consuming process.

Black Rice Recipes:

Black or purple rice is an aromatic, nutty variety and tastes great when cooked properly. Here are few recipes to try, the next time you grab of packet of black rice from the supermarket shelf.

Black Rice Pulao:
Black rice pulao


1 cup black rice

2 onions, chopped finely

2 tomatoes, chopped finely

1 green chilli, slit

2 carrots, cut into cubes

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp cumin

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp garam masala powder

1 tej patta or bay leaf

2 cloves

1 star anise

1 Marathi Mogga

Oil as required

Salt to taste

Fistful of coriander leaves for garnishing


Wash and soak black rice for 6 hours or overnight. In a pressure cooker, add 3 cups of water and cook it for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release, fluff it with a fork and set it aside

In a pan, add oil. Add all whole spices including bay leaf, cloves, star anise, Marathi mogga

Let the spices fry before stirring in onions, ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, green chilli, carrots. Sauté

Add salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala powder and mix well

Stir in rice, close the lid and let it cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with finely cut coriander leaves

Serve hot with raita

Nutritional Content:

Black or purple rice is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium and various other nutrients making it a popular variety among rice. Low on glycemic index, it can be consumed by those suffering from high blood sugars. While whole spices add rich flavour to the dish, vegetables and ground spices meet the nutritional requirement and also aid in digestion, weight loss. Eat it with curd for maintaining the spice levels.

Black Rice Pudding:
Black rice pudding


1 cup black rice

½ cup brown sugar

250 ml, freshly squeezed coconut milk


Soak black rice overnight. In a large saucepan, add 4 cups of water, close the lid and let it cook completely

Add sugar, coconut milk. Allow the sugar to melt and let the flavour of coconut milk get absorbed fully

After it is completely cooked, remove from the heat but keep stirring it occasionally for that intense coconut flavour

Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk or fresh fruits of your choice

Nutritional Content:

Black rice pudding can be consumed by the diabetics’ guilt free, as it is very low on glycemic index. By adding brown sugar to this dessert, you are managing the sweetness. Coconut milk is a rich source of manganese, copper that keep the heart healthy. Adding fresh fruits to this dessert meets all other nutritional requirements.

Side Effects:

Black or purple rice is undoubtedly a great variety of rice, loaded with high nutritional values. However, excessive intake of this variety can trigger severe bloating, flatulence, indigestion owing to its rich fibre content. Always soak the rice for few hours before cooking, for it to cook completely. Drink water after consuming this rice to facilitate digestion. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor or nutritionist, if you can consume this variety.


Black or purple rice is native to China and has been in cultivation for more than 10,000 years. Available extensively worldwide and prized for its innumerable health benefits, in the recent times, this particular variety has become a staple of sorts for mindful eaters. A powerhouse of Vitamin E, dietary fibre, riboflavin, niacin, beta-carotene, calcium, manganese, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, protein, iron, this rice is also super low on glycemix index, making it an ideal food choice for those suffering from diabetes. Always make sure to cook after soaking it overnight or for a minimum of 5 hours. This sticky rice goes well in all dishes and can be consumed regularly for losing weight, maintain blood sugars,

However, restrict the intake to regular amounts as it may trigger excessive bloating and can interfere with digestion. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or suffer from chronic gastro digestive issues, before eating black rice.