Black rice is a type of the rice species Oryza sativa L. which is glutinous, packed with high level of nutrients and mainly cultivated in Asia. The pericarp (outer part) of kernel of this rice colour is black due to a pigment known as anthocyanin, an antioxidant. Black rice is also known as purple rice, forbidden rice, heaven rice, imperial rice, king's rice and prized rice. Many people assume this rice as a panacea of many culinary diseases because of its high nutritive value and curative effect. This rice is supposed to enhance the longivity of life, hence it is also known as long life rice. This rice includes several varieties with a long history of cultivation in Southeast Asian countries such as China, India and Thailand. Black rice is actually heirloom rice, means it is open pollinated, was grown at earlier times in the history, and is not grown on a large scale in modern agriculture. The term ?black rice? actually refers to a variety of rice types from the species Oryza sativa, and is descriptive of the colour of grain, rather than other properties. Black rice also comes in a number of short grain, long grain and glutinous varieties similar to brown rice. This rice has an incredibly rich history and among its strains has one variety known as ?Imperial Rice.? Imperial rice was reserved for the emperor?s consumption only. Black rice, as one would imagine, is deep black in color and mutates into a regal purple hue when cooked.
Origin and Distribution
There are more than 200 types of black rice varieties in the world. Only China is responsible for 62 % of global production of black rice and it has developed more than 54 modern black rice varieties with high yield characteristics and multiple resistances. China cultivates the most black rice followed by Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Philippines etc.
Black rice is typically sold as unmilled rice, means the fiber rich black husks of the rice are not removed. This rice is commonly used as a condiment, dressing, or as a decoration for different types of desserts in many countries around the world. The unusual colour makes it very popular for desserts and the high nutritional value is an added benefit. This rice is often served with fresh fruit such as mangoes and lychees, especially when drizzled with a fruit or rice syrup.