HISTORY: India was home to many indigenous varieties of rice before the advent of green revolution. It is said that there were around 23,000 varieties of rice cultivated in India alone. We have forgotten and lost most of these species due to the homogenization of rice especially the hybrid and modified varieties including the IR 8, IR 50, IR 64, etc which were developed in the lab. Thankfully many of the lost indigenous varieties of seeds are still preserved in seed banks across the world.
One such indigenous variety of rice which was forgotten and is gaining popularity in the recent times is the Black Rice. There are many varieties of forgotten black rice, one such variety from Tamil Nadu is locally called as Karuppu Kavuni Arisi and there are others from the North East of India, China and Thailand. It is sometimes known as the emperor's rice or forbidden rice in China and North East since it used to be grown especially for the royal families.
GROWTH: Black rice of Tamil Nadu (Karuppu Kavuni) grows upto a height of 5 feet and is a very hardy plant. On an average it yields in 130 days. Karuppu Kavuni is a long grained black rice. There are other short grained black rice varieties too.
TASTE: This forgotten food has a nutty flavor. Black rice is chewy by nature and is best to prepare porridge, cake and pudding.
BENEFITS: Black rice is known to have higher amount of fibre, protein and micro nutrients like Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, etc, when compared to the white rice, red rice and brown rice. 100g of black rice contains 9g of protein while brown rice has 7g and white rice only 2g. Hence it is an excellent source of protein.
Diabetes Management: The long grained Karuppu Kavuni rice is low GI compared to white rice and red rice which makes it very suitable for people with diabetes and border line diabetes to help manage their sugar levels when consumed on a daily basis.
Obesity and weight management: Since black rice contains more proteins and fibre it helps to keep us full for a longer time and reduces hunger pangs. The presence of Anthocyanin also may result in weight reduction. It is right to say that it helps in managing your ideal weight rather than saying it only helps to reduce weight. So it may help to gain weight in certain people who are thin.
Slows down aging: The good amount of anti-oxidants present in black rice may help slow down the aging process and make you look younger.
Regeneration: Black rice contains more than 18 different types of Amino acids which help crucial body functions, repair and regenerate damaged cells.
Digestion: The high amount of insoluble fibre found in black rice helps in regulating bowel movement. The fibres absorb water and toxins and swell up. It adds bulk to the stools and helps easily remove waste from the body. Hence prevents bloating, constipation and maintains a healthy gut.
Reduces Cholesterol: Scientific studies have shown a reduction of cholesterol in rabbits which were fed with black rice in this lab study.
Do we need more reasons to grow this wonderful forgotten food grain and get it back to the mainstream food diet and consumption in our daily lives?
Look out for our next blog where we would be sharing recipes on how to incorporate black rice in your daily diet.