During dynasty rule in China black rice was consumed exclusively by the royals for the tremendous health benefits particularly for greater longevity, and hence it was mentioned in ancient Chinese literature as Emperor’s Rice & Fortune Rice. In those days black rice was forbidden to general public, it was even considered an offence to consume black rice or grow black rice crops without royal permission, so it was widely known as the Forbidden Rice. At the dawn of communism in China people were granted to grow Forbidden Rice crops, soon Emperor’s Rice reached the hands of ordinary people, and in due course black rice cultivation was spread to different places around the world. Initially black rice was brought to south India by the affluent business community in Chettinad. They take pride in including an exotic black rice (kavuni arisi) pudding in their lavish wedding banquets even today.
Health Benefits of Black Rice: Since black rice is gluten free and also has a low glycemic index (GI), it can be considered as a healthier alternate to wheat and rice. Black rice has exceptionally high amounts of anti-oxidants called anthocyanins which play a vital role to prevent cancer, heart diseases, and also obesity. Anthocyanins are responsible for the purple, blue or pink color of all the produces namely purple cabbage, purple brinjal, purple berries (nava pazham/ jamun), blue berries, plums, prunes, grapes, pomegranates, pink radish, beet roots, rajma beans, etc.
In china black rice is used for making soups, salads and desserts. Generally black rice requires over-night soaking to reduce the cooking time and also to minimize the loss of nutrients. Hard black rice grains turn sticky, chewy & purple when cooked, so it is best suited for making desserts like payasam, kheer, sakkarai pongal, etc. Besides black rice can be ground into batter for making south Indian specialties like idli, dosa, adai, or paniyaram and also made into flour for making gluten free roti, idiyappam, puttu, kozhukattai, modhagam, murukku, adhirasam, chocolate pudding, chocolate cakes & other baked desserts.
Chettinad black rice pudding is prepared by adding grated coconut and jaggery into the cooked rice, whereas Chinese black rice pudding is prepared by adding coconut milk & sugar and served with fresh seasonal fruits. Now lets prepare the Chettinad style sticky black rice pudding :
First we need to wash & soak the black rice in plain water for at least 5 hours, and then pressure cook the rice (preferred rice & water ratio is 1:5) by simmering for 20 minutes after reaching the high pressure. We can either cook again on stove top or leave for some time until all the excess water is absorbed.
- Cooked black rice (karuppu kavuni arisi)
- Jaggery (vellam)
- Grated coconut
- Ghee-roasted cashewnuts
- Cardamom powder
Chettinad kavuni arisi preparation:
- Heat a cooking pan with cooked black rice in medium flame.
- Add powdered jaggery and stir in until incorporated.
- Add cardamom powder, grated coconut and roasted cashew nuts.
- Mix well and remove from flame.
- Serve kavuni arisi warm or chilled.