Black Rice

Black is beautiful, they say. Never understood that. Why? Any colour could be beautiful. Why single out Black then, I used to think. True, many of us suffer from a “white fixation”, perhaps a colonial hangover? But why Black? Why not Pink, or Blue or Green?

I used to wonder about this (reverse?) racism among colours, until a few years ago, when I came across Karuppu Kavuni, the Black Rice!

Today, after a fulfilling meal of Black Rice (Karuppu Kavuni, the variety grown in Tamil Nadu), I am literally on my knees, begging for more.

You see, Bio Basics had introduced KK to our consumers way back in 2017. Grown in the Kaveri delta basin near Thanjvur by a small group of organic farmers, KK was brought home to us then. Soon, Devi started experimenting with it, and I started seeing some south-east asian dishes containing KK. Then followed a wonderful dessert, and I loved it! And we kept popularizing it among consumers, who picked up and tried it at home. Some kept coming back.

Years later, very recently, I saw my favourite breakfast dish Idiyappam (like string noodles) in black. Hunh…I thought, that is interesting…and it tastes good as well. A little sticky, but goes very well with Kadala curry (bengal gram curry) or a vegetable stew. Mix it well with your hungry fingers and you will literally slurp it down fast ! It is that tasty.

Meanwhile, in the snacks segment, my favorite (that is to say, my absolute favorite product cutting across all that we offer at Bio Basics) is the KK mixture. The crispiness of this mixture is to be personally crunched to believe! Made by our long-time partner (a respectable FPO from Pudukkotai), this mixture looks black with a little bit of white rice flakes thrown in. I carry these for our rehearsals at the local theatre group and they keep pining for more! So Bio Basics has launched this in December as an exclusive “hero product” among retailers. And now it is in stores in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

This, and the murukku (aka chakli) made from KK. That one is exclusively black and we all love it. Our favorite snack to offer visitors at Bio Basics, something to wow them with. Folks generally start with a frown, wide eyes (not together- that is physically impossible!, but one after another) and then you see them crunching it down, and asking for more!! Such is the dominance of the murukku.

Last week, Black entered my favorite food - Masala Dosa. I was sceptical. But sorry to say, I fell for it on my first bite. It was very different (obviously to look at) in its texture and taste from the usual white/red rice dosas. And the best part - one can’t tell if the dosa is burnt here or there, because the whole piece is fully black!!

And then, yesterday, came the coup de grace. I came back home for lunch and checked out which rice Devi had decided to eat for us that day. And my heart sank! It was jet black, maybe a little bit of purple. I was visually missing my Kerala Matta (red rice) and I was thinking, Devi is pushing the envelope a bit too far this time. I settled down to eat two servings of table black rice, and poured the dal (moong dal made in a thick creamy consistency with ground coconut and cooked ridge gourd thrown in). I must admit this is my favorite dal. And Devi used this fact to bring me down on this, perhaps! I started mixing the rice with this dal with trepidation. The first time I was having KK as a table rice. The last bastion for it to conquer. The ultimate final ball in a T20 when we need a 6 to win!

It feels good, my fingers spoke out. And then, it happened! It was just simply out-of-this-world. The KK and dal combination was heavy (shall I say meaty?) and chewy to the mouth. Excellent feel! And the two servings I took were followed by one more, out of sheer gluttony! That night, despite a tiffin item for my supper, which I usually insist on (instead of eating left-overs), Devi was surprised, I went in for the final kill and finished off the remaining black rice from the lunch with the dal, nicely heated up like a kichadi or pongal with a pickle on the side. This is simplest of all meals - rice and dal - but this was just simply black. And beautiful!

You see, now, why I am on my knees!

You see, Black has now conquered my heart. It now competes with my Kerala rices (Thondi, Uma, Kuruva, and Kerala Matta) on my lunch table. And it will take years to pick my favorite, and there are many more to check out at Bio Basics, the largest granary of organic heritage grains. The riot of colours, textures, tastes of just rices is simply worth a Sec 144, if you know what I mean! I feel like Lord Krishna with his hundreds of Gopikas, each seeking His attention, absolutely besotted with Him, and He in turn loving each of them as much as the other. It is just a riot of love. Don’t miss out on this riot in this lifetime. It would be a shame, if you do.

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