This forbidden black rice pilaf is made colorful with corn, cranberries, and herbs. It’s easy enough for everyday meals and festive enough to serve as a winter holiday side dish.
The first time I devised this recipe, I thought I’d better cut the recipe in half so we wouldn’t be eating it for half of the week. What a mistake—my family of four tore through the resulting quantity in no time.
We liked it so much that I felt compelled to make it again from scratch the following day to see if the results weren’t a fluke—was my family extra-hungry the previous night? Happily, I got the same results from the second go-around on this delectable grain dish and have been sure to make the full quantity since.
This is a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas. And while it’s a gorgeous eyeful, it’s too good to save for only special occasions, and too simple not to make for everyday meals.
This recipe is one of my favorite ways to use black rice, though there’s an option to use wild rice instead. Either way, it’s gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free.
About black forbidden rice
Black forbidden rice is a grain native to Asia, eaten throughout the region for thousands of years. For centuries it was strictly reserved for Chinese royalty because it’s not as easy to grow. The modest yield makes it more precious. See a thorough history of forbidden rice.
The deep black and purple hulls indicate the grains high level of antioxidants; this grain also contains the most fiber and protein of any other grain variety.
There are other varieties of black rice, all of which can be used interchangeably with forbidden rice. Black rice is a whole grain variety and cooks to a more tender texture than brown rice.
- 1 cup forbidden black rice or wild rice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 to 4 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 2 cups thawed frozen corn kernels
- 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Toasted pumpkin seeds for topping, optional
- If using forbidden rice, combine in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. If you’d like a more tender grain, add 1/2 cup additional water and cook until absorbed. If using wild rice, combine with 3 cups of water and cook in the same way.
- Just before the rice is done, heat half of the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté over low heat until golden. Add the scallions and corn kernels and sauté just until warmed through.
- Transfer the cooked rice to the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium high, then add the lime juice, cilantro, cumin, oregano, thyme cranberries, and remaining oil. Stir together gently, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve, transfer to an attractive serving container and if using, sprinkle a small quantity of pumpkin seeds over the top.
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