The Forbidden Rice

Whether you call it black rice or forbidden rice, we call it delicious—and a superfood

Black rice
Just one spoonful of the black-rice bran contains the same amount of these antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries – and without the sugar.

June 29, 2017

Each year, researchers discover more reasons to love black rice, also known as forbidden rice. Not only does it have a nutty flavor, hearty texture, and gorgeous appearance–a deep purple when it’s cooked up–it’s also proven to have tremendous health benefits.

In a study published in Food Science & Nutrition, scientists wrote that “epidemiological studies suggested that the low incidence of certain chronic diseases in rice-consuming regions of the world might be associated with the antioxidant compound contents of rice.” And the researchers found that black rice varieties contained the highest antioxidant activities, followed by purple, red, and brown rice.

These antioxidants are known as anthocyanins, the same ones found in blueberries, grapes, and acai. Anthocyanins have been responsible for the popularity boom of the acai berry, and for good reason! They have been linked to decreased risks of heart disease and cancer and improved memory along with many other health benefits. Just one spoonful of the black-rice bran contains the same amount of these antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries – and without the sugar.

It’s easy to substitute your brown rice for black in dishes like sushi, a rice bowl, a rice pudding or in stir-fries such as this Black Rice with Tempeh, Broccoli and Kale. The general rule is you cook 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water. (Just be sure to rinse and soak the rice if you want to half the cooking time.) You can find black rice in almost every supermarket and specialty store. We especially like Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice. 


Black Rice with Tempeh, Broccoli and Kale

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
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  • 1 1/2 cups (280 grams) black rice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) tahini
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided (from about 2 lemons)
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups (200 grams) broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) kale, ribs removed, leaves cut into 1/2-inch shreds
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) sliced tempeh, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 medium sized red cabbage, cored and cut into 1/4-inch shreds
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) pine nuts, toasted


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the rice and 2 2/3 cups (630 ml) of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover, and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the tahini, oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water, and salt to taste. Set aside.
  3. When the rice is about 15 minutes from being done, in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer insert, bring the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water to a boil over high heat. Arrange the broccoli, kale, tempeh, and cabbage in the insert, cover and steam until the vegetables are tender and the tempeh is heated through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Arrange the rice on plates or a platter and top with a vegetable mixture, tahini sauce, and pine nuts. Pass any remaining tahini at the table.