Purple rice, and its counterpart black rice, is known for the high levels of anthocyanin that it contains. This chemical is known for its antioxidant qualities and overall health benefits. In recent medical studies, antioxidants have been identified as a key component in fighting the damaging effects of free radicals.
The purple rice variety is predominantly grown in Thailand and China and can be slightly harder to find and more expensive than more common types of rice. However, the added cost and effort is well worth it. This rice variety also tends to have a nutty, mildly sweet taste and a unique aroma. In the case of jasmine rice, its sweet jasmine fragrance actually led to its name.
There is a variety of purple rice available in different grain lengths. This makes them ideal for improving the nutrition values of dishes traditionally made with white rice. Its various shades of purple also make for an attractive presentation and can make a great way to coax fussy children into eating rice. Next time you make a stir-fry or when you are serving chicken or fish, consider replacing a side dish with healthy purple sticky rice. It is quick and easy to make and is sure to get a positive review from anyone at the table.
Cooking purple sticky rice is simple if you already know how to cook rice. Just soak and rinse the rice in a large bowl and bring it to a boil with 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups of water for every cup of rice used. By using a stock that matches your intended protein in place of water, you can tie the rice into the meal and add a flavor boost. Boil the rice over high heat for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is gone. Pull your purple rice from the heat and cover for an additional 10 minutes. All that is left is to fluff, serve and enjoy.
What’s more, because of its sweet nature, the purple rice is also great for desserts. When naturally sweetened, this provides an easy way to enjoy an indulgent dessert that is loaded in nutrition benefits. A great example that can be thrown together quickly is Thai purple rice pudding. Traditionally, this dish is served in a hollow segment of bamboo, but it works equally well in a small bowl or serving boat. Following the recipe above, allow your rice to cool slightly and fold in sweetened coconut milk in small quarter-cup increments. Be careful when folding to not crush or break the rice. When the purple rice has a creamy texture and is thoroughly coated in coconut milk, add in some shredded coconut and diced mango, papaya or pineapple. Toss lightly and place in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap until chilled. Serve within a few hours for the best texture and quality.
There are a number of ways to enjoy the health benefits and unique characteristics provided by these exotic rice varieties. While finding them may be difficult in your area, your best bet for fresh product and low prices is to find a Chinese, Thai, or Japanese market. However, you may also find the more common varieties, such as jasmine rice, at high-end food retailers. Remember, when storing purple rice, that light, moisture and air will cause the rice to age and degrade quicker. Always store your rice in an airtight, translucent or solid-colored container in a cool dry place for longer shelf life.