Forbidden black rice is nutty, delicious, and chock-full of nutrients like iron and fiber. Read on to learn how to cook this striking, good-for-you grain!
As I rummaged through my pantry last spring, I found a canister of black rice that I’d forgotten about. Jack and I hadn’t been to the store in weeks. After eating our way through boxes of pasta and bags of white rice, the black rice was an exciting change.
Thanks to its nutty flavor and striking purple hue, black rice, also called forbidden rice, had been one of my favorite grains when we lived in Austin. I’d get it from the bulk bins at the grocery store, eagerly anticipating adding it to salads and bowls when I got home. I don’t know why it fell out of the rotation when we moved, but after eating it on repeat throughout the spring, summer, and fall, I’m happy to report that in our house, black rice is back for good.
What is forbidden rice?
If you’ve only cooked white rice and brown rice before, you might be wondering, “What is forbidden rice, anyway?”
It’s a fair question. This heirloom rice variety isn’t common. Compared with other types of rice, it has a low yield, so it’s not grown as much as higher-yielding, mainstream varieties. Even in ancient China, it was rare. In fact, the name “forbidden rice” comes from the fact that only the ancient Chinese royalty were allowed to eat it.
Still, black rice is worth seeking out. I adore its nutty flavor and chewy texture, and it’s also highly nutritious. Its dark color comes from powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. It’s rich in iron, and it’s a whole grain rice variety, too. What does that mean? Well, unlike white rice, its outermost layer stays intact when it’s processed. As a result, it has plenty of fiber. I think you’re going to love it!
How to Cook Black Rice
Cooking black rice on the stove is simple. In fact, it’s a lot like cooking brown rice! Here’s what you need to do:
- First, rinse the rice. This step helps remove starches that can cause clumping during the cooking process.
- Next, add it to a lidded saucepan. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of water for every cup rice, along with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Finally, allow the rice to steam. Remove it from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 more minutes.
Fluff with a fork, and enjoy!
Black Rice Serving Suggestions
Season the rice with salt and pepper and serve it as a side dish, or use it in your favorite rice recipes! I especially love using forbidden black rice as the base for grain bowls. Try adding it to any of these 15 Rice Bowl Recipes, or make your own bowl with these components:
- The rice, of course! Start with a bed of cooked forbidden black rice.
- A protein. Black rice pairs really nicely with baked tofu, tempeh, and eggs. Try soft-boiling them or cooking them sunny-side-up.
- Your favorite veggies. Toss in a handful of fresh greens, thinly sliced radishes, or shaved carrots. Roasted broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or butternut squash would be great too! The options are endless.
- A tasty sauce. Tie it all together with peanut sauce, tahini dressing, gochujang sauce, or cilantro lime dressing.
Let me know what combinations you try!
More Healthy Cooking Basics
If you love this black rice recipe, try cooking one of these nutritious grains or legumes next:
Forbidden Black Rice
- 1 cup uncooked forbidden black rice, rinsed
- 1¾ cups water
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine the rice, water, and olive oil in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Thank you for this recipe. Can you cook it in the instant pot? I know brown rice takes long to cook on the stove so I usually cook brown rice in the IP. Would I cook it as the brown rice or less time? Thank you
Hi Sue, we haven’t tested cooking black rice in the IP, though I’m guessing the timing would be similar to brown rice.
Yay! I’ve tried to make black rice before and it ended up all mushy and bland but your recipe and method were perfect! So much tastier and fluffier! I’m so happy! Thank you!
I’m so glad your rice came out perfect!
Thanks for perfect instructions on how to cook black rice. It finally turned out perfect.
I tried the recipe and love it
I LOVE black rice! I cannot find it anywhere here in Ohio though! I purchased it in the past online, but have not been able to find the brand I loved before. Thanks for sharing!
Cara – I’m in Toledo and I found it at the little Asian market on McCord.
Just bought some at Whole Foods. Can you cook it in a rice cooker?
What setting would you use for a rice cooker?
Hi Karen, I use the brown rice setting.
it sounds very very good……its the
first time that i hear about black rise specially when its forbidden…..thank u. 😏
This may sound strange, but black rice with celery cooked in chicken broth is delicious.
I use a very light broth to cook the celery, drain, and serve over the rice with tamari soy sauce and butter. It goes very well with salmon, and feels like a very decadent meal.
This is amazing, thank you Deb!!!
Sounds fabulous. I will try this. Thank you.
Sounds so delicious! I’ve never heard of it before. Do you have any preferred brands for the black rice? There’s so many different ones out there!
Hi Nicole, I like Lotus Foods
Thanks, Jeanine! That narrows it down for me. I’ll give it a try! 😀