Black rice is called Pulut Hitam in Malay and Kavuni Arisi in Tamil and in China was known as Forbidden Rice as it was only allowed to be eaten by royalty or the very wealthy. It is sticky and lends itself deliciously to desserts sweetened with raw sugar and coconut milk and in Thailand is eaten with fresh mango. If you haven’t tried it you don’t know what you are missing!
With a Singaporean heritage I enjoyed it as Peranakan dish called Bubor Pulut Hitam, a black rice pudding flavoured with pandan leaf, sweetened with gula melaka and a dollop of coconut cream. From our South Indian kitchen at home we had it as Kavuni Arisi payasam flavoured with cardamom and served with jaggery, ghee and freshly grated coconut. I love, love, love it in the cuisine of any culture and could never get enough of it. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother who used to make it so well in both styles.
Now this amazing rice is being hailed as a super antioxidant food. Indeed black rice has the highest amounts of antioxidants, protein and dietary fibre of all other varieties, white, brown or red. It is now being ground up or used in extract form by small manufacturers to colour food and drink naturally to avoid harmful artificial dyes; when you rinse it you can see why; the water is a rich, antioxidant red immediately on touching water. Do check out its wondrous health benefits here.
As with so many things, when I came to live in London many moons ago, it remained a taste memory brought back to life once in a while on visits to Singapore and India and occasionally in South East Asian restaurants here at home in the UK.
I could not be bothered to make it. It seemed like too much effort. You have to wash the rice first, then soak the rice, then boil it and make sure you stir it or it risks burning. Being the impatient, easily distracted cook that I am the risk of scouring a charred pan put me off making it. And the sieve to wash, the bowl to wash and a sticky pan to scrub clean (assuming I did not burn the mixture!)…
I researched Thermomix recipes and found many and the fact is that I was still put off because all the recipes called for it to be cooked in the Thermomix bowl and – now you are going to find out how lazy I really am – even the thought of having to wash out the sticky mess from the TM bowl put me off.
This morning I saw an unopened packet of the rice in my kitchen cabinet and had a real craving for it. I then had a brain wave. I had been cooking perfect white and brown rice in the simmering basket for over a year now. So why not Forbidden Rice? The worst that could happen is that I would have to spend a little while cleaning the simmering basket. So I had a go and it was genius (if I say so myself)! It’s neat! It’s clean! It works! It’s no longer forbidden!
It is important to wash and soak the rice. Weigh it in the simmering basket, rinse it in the simmering basket, soak it for four hours in the TM Bowl in the simmering basket and when it’s done soaking, remove the simmering basket, pour out the soaking liquor and refill with fresh water and cook. When cooked, using the hook the spatula as a handle onto the simmering basket (clever Thermomix design!). Just the simmering basket to clean easily and the TM bowl with no sticky residue. A winner!
I thank Iron Chef Shellie for her initial preparation instructions and cooking times in the Thermomix adapted from the brilliant Thermomix recipe book Taste of Asia. This is the Peranakan style dish. If you want to make a South Indian version then (I haven’t tried it but) I’d cook the rice in the same way and adapt this recipe.
200g black glutinous rice
1.5 + litres water
3 pandan leaves scored, twisted and tied in a tight knot
60 – 100 g gula melaka grated (or other available raw sugar)
200g coconut cream
Weigh the rice in the simmering basket. Rinse the rice under a running tap, shake off excess water and tip the rice out onto a tray lined with kitchen paper. Pat the rice dry and then place it in a frying pan and stir over gentle heat until the rice is dry and slightly toasted. This is an optional process. If you don’t plan on using your TM bowl for a while, then put the rice back in the simmering basket and fill the TM bowl with 2 litres of water. Leave the rice to soak in the simmering basket for 4 hours.
Once properly soaked, pour out the water and fill the TM bowl with fresh water to 3 cm above the level of the rice in the simmering basket. Place the pandan leaf bundle in the simmering basket. Cook for 15 minutes/Varoma/Speed 4. Remove the MC if it bubbles up or increase the speed. Cook for 50 minutes/100C/Speed 4. The rice is ready when the grains are soft.
Remove the simmering basket and tip the rice into a serving bowl. Add sugar to taste to the remaining water in the TM bowl. Cook 3 minutes/ 100C/ speed 1 till the sugar has dissolved. Pour the sugar syrup over the rice and stir through.
Serve the rice hot, warm or cold with a drizzle of coconut cream. Great alternative to porridge in the morning!