It was really purple, served with sweetened coconut milk and quite an experience for someone like me who had not seen anything other than white rice and had never heard of purple rice. For me, who started out knowing nobody in that city, it was a really nice thing to have my friend invite me to her home and have her mother write to mine when I told her that my parents would have to approve of my spending the weekends with them.
A few weeks ago, I visited the Khadi Gramodyog outlet near my office for something specific. As usual, I ran my eye over the other shelves idly and when I saw this pack of ‘Original Burma Black Rice’ I had to pick it up for its exotica value, though what I’d do with it, I had no idea. I could only imagine the taste, and I didn’t dare fall back on the memory of that purple (not black) rice because it would have meant a big disappointment if mine hadn’t lived up to Aunty’s. Amidst guilty thoughts of my never-shrinking pantry, I quickly paid for it and scuttled out of there. Then Sharmi announced rice as the ingredient for Jihva, and thus began the frantic trawling of the Internet for various Burmese recipes. Putting two and two together, I later deduced that this is the Kavanarisi that one comes across in Chettinad cuisine – a legacy of the days many in the Chettiar community (among other Indians) lived in Burma for reasons of business and trade.
This rice is mostly used for sweet dishes (including one made in the same way as the purple rice dessert) but in a recipe I saw, neither salt nor sugar was mentioned, and except for rice and water, all the other ingredients were mentioned as ‘optional’! Well, this was my cue – I’d get to make the rice, it wouldn’t have any sugar in it, the coconut was optional and I had the rest of the stuff at home.
But as the night passed, I couldn’t bring myself to do without the coconut so this morning The Spouse was dispatched to fetch one, by which time I had assembled everything else.
This was the hardest dish to photograph so far – the rice didn’t fluff up (it didn’t look fluffy in others’ photos, if that’s any consolation) but I’m hoping it doesn’t look like a soggy mass either, because it wasn’t – it was chewy, sticky and grainy. If that sounds like it went wrong, it’s not meant to – that’s how it’s meant to be. But it was so bland, it had me running to the snacks box for something spicy – it takes a little getting used to. You can add some jaggery for added taste.
I'm not sure it comes from just one country in the Far East, because there are recipes that are claimed by more than one country. Here’s how you go about it:
Burma black rice: 1 cup, soaked overnight
(It will run colour)
Coconut: Shaved/shredded (I shaved off some with a peeler and put the rest in the fridge)
Sesame seeds: 1 tbsp
Peanuts, crushed: 1 tbsp
Salt: ½ tsp at least
Boiling water: Enough to just cover the rice
Drain the water from the rice, wash once.
In a pressure cooker, pour in two inches of water. Using a trivet, place the black rice in a bowl on top of the trivet.
Pour boiling water enough to just cover the rice.
Cook for 3-4 whistles.
Once the pressure drops naturally, put the rice in a bowl, add salt, the coconut, sesame seeds and peanuts and mix lightly.
Garnish with a few coconut shavings.
Here are a few other black rice recipes from the blogs:
From Sig's Live To Eat
From Mallugirl's Malabar Spice
From Freya & Paul's Writing at the Kitchen Table
And here are links to more recipes:
Xoi Nep Than
How to cook purple and black rice
Black Sticky Rice
And now, to spread the joy among everybody in the blog world and pay it forward, as Cynthia of Tastes Like Home so nicely put it, here’s whom I’m picking for the Rockin’ Girl Blogger awards (in alphabetical order)
Archana from Tried and Tested Recipes
Mallika from Quick Indian Cooking
Mallugirl from Malabar Spices
Sandeepa from Bong Mom’s Cookbook
Santhi from Writing on the Mirror
Paz from The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz
Prema of My Cookbook
Jihva/JFI Black Rice Glutinous rice Myanmar/Burma Far East