When it comes to easy vegetarian one-bowl recipes, this beautiful Black Rice Salad ticks all the right boxes! It’s quick to assemble and deliciously-healthy too, brimming with a rainbow-hued riot of textures from creamy avocado and feta to crispy chickpeas and toasted pistachios. A versatile tahini-yogurt dressing brings this beautiful black rice salad bowl together with its Mediterranean-inspired flavours perfect for the hot summer months!
Why Black Rice?
The base of this salad is black rice. Distinctive for its purpleish hue and nutty taste, the nutrient- and antioxidant-rich black rice was once “forbidden” to everyone but the Chinese Emperor (hence it often goes by the name forbidden rice too).
However, black rice is indigenous to parts of India too, from the North East and Bengal to Jharkhand, and Odisha. Locally it is known as Chak-hao and has been consumed in the northeastern state of Manipur for centuries, playing a key role in Manipuri celebratory feasts.
Here are just a few reasons why I favour black rice over other varieties (including brown rice):
- It’s low-carb yet packed with protein, more so than even red rice.
- It’s rich in antioxidants, including the pigment anthocyanin which gives this rice it’s unique colour.
- It’s high in dietary fibre, iron and overall good for hearth health!
Key Ingredients In This Black Rice Salad
- Black rice for its host of health benefits, not to mention nutty texture.
- Crisp oven-baked chickpeas, for an added boost of protein and crunch.
- Feta cheese, to impart a tangy creaminess.
- Avocado, because every salad is just better with avocado tossed in!
- Cherry tomatoes, for their juicy tartness.
- Cucumber, for it’s cooling effect.
- Toasted pistachios, for a gentle crunch.
- Parsley, to add a touch of greens and a peppery punch
And What About The Dressing?
A tahini-yogurt dressing elevates this black rice salad further with its Mediterranean flavours! Made with hung curd, tahini, lime juice olive oil and garlic – the dressing is simple yet versatile. Scale up the recipe provided below to double its use as a dipping sauce for your next summer-friendly grazing platter!
Black Rice Rainbow Salad
- ½ cup black rice
- ⅓-½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
- ½ cucumber, thinly-cut
- ½ avocado, cut in cubes
- ⅓-½ block of feta, cut in cubes
- 1 big bunch of parsley, de-stemmed
- ¼-⅓ cup pistachios, toasted
For the crispy chickpeas
- ⅓-½ cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp paprika
- sea salt
- black pepper
For the tahini-yogurt dressing
- ⅓ cup hung curd
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook the black rice
- Soak the black rice for 15-20 minutes beforehand in cold water.
- Cook ½ cup of black rice with approx. 3 cups of water until the rice is just shy al dente. Drain the rice and set aside to cool.
Prepare the crispy chickpeas
- Cook the chickpeas in a pressure-cooker until softened. Drain and pat-dry the chick-peas.
- Pre-heat you oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, paprika, sea salt and pepper until evenly coated.
- Bake the chickpeas for 20-25 minutes or so until crisp and golden-brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
Prepare the dressing
- Whisk together the hung curd with tahini, garlic and lemon juice.
- Stir in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust according to preference: for instance, adding more tahini for a nutty kick, more lemon juice for a zing etc.
Assemble the salad
- Add the black rice, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta, crispy chickpeas, avocado, parsley and toasted pistachios to a large mixing bowl. Toss together until evenly combined.
- Spread the salad out in a serving bowl. Spoon some tahini-yogurt on top and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!
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