black rice

An Unexpected Friend

“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” ―John Joseph Powell

I was introduced to Yasu unexpectedly. One day, after living in Japan for over a year, I came home to a box of chocolates on my doorstep. A letter was attached to it. It read:

“Ms Anisa

I am Yasuko from upstairs.

When I was tired from moving work, you gave me a dessert. That was very delicious and thank you so much for that. I wanted to always talk with you.
But I will move on April 30 to next village.
The new address is Nishiawakura village.
If you don’t mind, could you hang out with me sometime?
I am really bad at English, but I hope we could be good friends.”

The dessert she was referring to was actually a blueberry smoothie that I made for my neighbors after seeing them gardening on a hot day.

When I finally met Yasu and asked her why she hadn’t introduced herself earlier she said that she had been too shy/scared. Can you believe it? One year of loneliness, living below my now best-friend.

Alas, we have done much since the letter: smoothie-bowls, food outings, yoga-classes, dinners with her family and yesterday, pottery class followed by a home-cooked Japanese dinner and my black-rice pudding for dessert. On the latter, her father told her mother he absolutely didn’t like it. He said this in Japanese but I understood regardless (hehe) but, no matter. It must have been an unusual taste though black rice and coconut milk is readily consumed in Asia. Yasu’s father reminded me of the many times my own father has made inappropriate comments in Persian thinking no one (but us) can understand him when they (the non-persian speakers) can easily read his facial expressions or sense his intent! Oops hehe.

Thai Black Rice Pudding

Basically all you need to know is that black rice is better than brown rice and brown rice is better than white rice. Kapeesh? Black rice is lower in calories and higher in fibre and protein than the other two. Not to mention, it’s also packed with loads of antioxidants – no wonder it was called ‘the forbidden rice’ by the ancient Chinese and reserved for the mighty emperor only!

We all know Thai food is the bomb so naturally, this thai black rice breakfast (or dessert) pudding is the shizzle. AND it’s EASY and GOOD FOR YOU! Do you reckon I can make it in advertising? Anyways, the recipe calls for a cup of cooked black rice – don’t fret! It’s really easy. Simply cook the black rice in your rice cooker and follow the instructions (water/time) as if you were using brown rice instead. I did this the night before so my rice was ready in time for breakfast.

1 cup cooked black rice ( cold)
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp honey (or maple if you’re vegan)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut

fruit of choice (typically, mango is used)
more coconut!

Place all ingredients in a small pot on medium heat.

Stir until desired porridge-consistency- DAS IT

To finish, top with fresh fruit (I used Okayama’s renowned white peaches).

Nomnom for breakfast or dessert or whenever!

black rice bread


Yesterday marked my 2 week anniversary of living in Japan. Which reminds me of the time my first boyfriend (age 12? 13?) and I celebrated our one month anniversary at a Steak House – just ridiculous! Any who, so far, I’ve come to learn many things including the cold hard fact that it’s extremely difficult to find raw unsalted nuts and brown bread in Japan. Oh how I long to splurge out at Piko or Liberty Market! The supermarkets here are very different to the ones back home – most items are  salty, sugary and full of preservatives (of course making them delicious) which has me wondering how come the Japanese are so damn thin? Life is unfair. My colleague says its to do with a healthy diet of rice, miso and sashimi.

Having been craving a Persian breakfast, I set out on an important mission today. Unfortunately I did not find any brown bread. However; I stumbled upon this bread made of back/purple rice which I deem even better! Not only is  black rice full of fibre and antioxidants, it’s also rich and delicious. I wonder if you can find it in New Zealand? Also, these nuts were labeled “raw” but still taste slightly of salt. Nevertheless, I did also buy fresh mango, edamame beans, asparagus, broccoli, banana, free range eggs and fresh organic milk. So really, I’ve nothing to complain about!

Black Sushi, Anyone?

If you’ve decided to take the plunge into living a healthier and happier life this year (like the past 10 years) then I have just the tool for you – BLACK RICE aka “The Forbidden Rice”. Why forbidden? Well, in ancient China, black rice and its countless healing powers was solely reserved for the Emperors and their Royal families (and so “forbidden” to the common Chinese people) as they believed its consumption would extend their lives; actually, they weren’t that far off the mark.

According to a recent study from the Louisiana State University, the bran hull of black rice contains significantly high amounts of vitamin E, which aids in boosting our immune systems and protecting our cells from radical damage. In addition, black rice contains even more anthocyanin antioxidants (per serving) than blueberries (minus the sugar); which are well-known for their anti-aging properties.

Thankfully, one can consume black rice today (which is really more purple than it is black in appearance), without having to face life-threatening consequences. Black rice is available at most supermarkets and health food stores (in Christchurch: New World, Liberty Market and Piko). Otherwise, next time you visit your local sushi maestro, why not ask him or her to adapt your favourite bento from white to black? No racism intended, honest.

*So far in Christchurch, Maki Mono and Bento (both at Riccarton Mall) are the only stockists which I’ve come by.