When it comes to Rice, Red And Black Are The New White

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A proliferation of colored rice is the latest trend in foodservice. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2011 What's Hot survey of chef-members of the American Culinary Federation, black and red rice is the hot new side dish. In fact, "black/forbidden rice," a newcomer to the survey is No. 1 among sides/starches and ranks 27th overall among 226 items. Red rice, also new to the list, ranks third among sides/starches and 43rd overall.

Several drivers of interest in black and red rice include novelty on the plate, not to mention greater demand for heirloom foods. More important, black and red rice carries a better-for-you nutritional profile, according to Michael Holleman, director of culinary development for category leader Indian Harvest, Bemidji, Mi

Indian Harvest offers three varieties of red rice — Himalayan Red from India, Ulikan Red from the Philippines and exclusive Colusari Red, which was rescued from a Maryland seed bank and grown to commercial viability in California. It also offers Black rice imported from China. Additionally, several unique grain blends feature red rice, such as Indian Harvest's Aztec Blend (Colusari Red Rice, amaranth, brown rice and multi-colored split peas), Mountain Red Blend (a mélange of Himalayan and Ulikan rices, (heirloom white rice, black quinoa and green lentils) and Whole Grain 5 Blend (Colusari Red Rice, grano, wild rice, sprouted brown rice and parboiled long-grain brown rice). Indian Harvest also offers Green Bamboo rice from China, Purple Thai rice, Brown Basmati rice from India and Short-Grain Brown rice.

"Our red and black rices offer the whole-grain goodness that an increasing number of diners seek," says Holleman. "What's more, both rices contain anthocyanins—the antioxidants found in blueberries, grapes and acai—that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer."

Red and black rices are nuttier-tasting and heartier than white rice, making them strategic in development of rice dishes with customer appeal, Holleman adds. And for enhanced menu intrigue through color, red rice retains its hue when cooked, whereas black rice turns a stunning deep, dark purple.

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