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Forbidden or black rice in a white ramekin on a purple napkin surrounded by side dishes.

Forbidden & Purple Rice

Black, or forbidden, rice is an exotic and healthful grain. And it's the secret to cooking up a fun batch of Korean-style purple rice. Here is a recipe for black rice and how with one small change you can create the plum-hued rice of forbidden fame!

Use the recipe card to double or triple the recipe to serve a crowd. This purple rice recipe makes a bit more than two cups of rice. 

Whether you choose an American forbidden rice variety or imported black sticky (glutinous) rice, the measurements of water are the same. But follow your instincts. If the water is evaporated but the rice isn't tender when you taste it, add more water and cook a little longer.

Typically you will need a little less water when using a rice cooker or Instant Pot. But especially if cooking a batch of black rice, you should follow the recipe below. Black rice is a sturdy, unrefined variety. Much like brown rice, it takes a bit longer to cook and requires more water than its refined friends.

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: About 3 cups of rice 1x



Basic Black Rice

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1¾ cups water or vegetable stock
  • A couple of pinches or ½ teaspoon kosher/flake salt (less if using table or iodized salt)
  • Fresh herbs on the stem or a couple bay leaves

For Purple Rice

  • 1 cup white rice
  • ¼ cup black rice 
  • 2¼ cups water*
  • A couple of pinches or about ½ teaspoon kosher/flake salt (less if using a table or iodized salt)


To Begin

  1. Measure out your rice. Either all black, or use the measurements of black and white for purple rice.
  2. Rinse the rice well. You can do this by submerging the rice in a bowl full of water and swishing vigorously. Or run water over the rice in a large mesh strainer until the water runs clear. In Asian cooking, submerging, rubbing, and draining the rice several times before cooking is standard practice.

On the Stovetop

  1. Place the rice, water, and a couple of small pinches of salt in a medium sauce pot.
  2. Bring the water just to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat and cover to maintain a very gentle simmer. If you'd like to add any fresh herbs or bay leaves to infuse the rice, do so now. 
  3. Simmer tightly covered for about 20 minutes before checking for doneness. The water should have tiny, soft bubbles that break the surface every long moment. But not be simmering so strongly the bubbles are large and frequent. 
  4. After 20 minutes taste a few grains of rice! Regardless of how much water is left and has escaped, tasting is the only way to know if the rice is cooked. Add about a quarter of a cup more water if the rice isn't tender yet. Return the lid quickly. Continue simmering, watching closely until the rice is tender. 
  5. If you are cooking Chinese forbidden rice with a long-grain white variety, allow the pot to sit undisturbed for ten minutes. Then fluff gently with a fork and serve. For sticky rice, fluff and remove gently, or scoop and roll into small balls.

In a Rice Cooker or Instant Pot

Especially if using an Instant Pot or rice cooker, you can cut back a little on the water. But excess water can always be strained off, so better to have a little more than not enough. 

  1. If cooking sticky rice in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, it can help to oil the inside a little or use a liner. 
  2. Place the rice, water, and a couple of small pinches of salt in the cooker.
  3. For Instant Pot and depending on the model, you can select Rice Function then Pressure Cook or pressure cook the rice on manual high pressure. If you selected the automatic rice function, it will turn off once cooked. If on manual, cook the rice for five to seven minutes. Then allow for at least ten minutes of natural release.
  4. For a rice cooker, follow the brand's recommendations for settings and cooking time based on the type of rice.
  5. If cooking a longer grain (and not glutinous) rice, fluff it gently with a fork after cooking and resting. If enjoying sticky rice, gently scoop it out (or remove using the ends of the liner). Then it can be scooped or rolled for serving.


Water Measurements

When cooking rice in a rice cooker or Instant Pot, the steam escape that happens with a covered pot on the stove is eliminated. So much less water is needed. First, consult the brand's recommendations for the best results. If you don't have access to your machine's manual, begin with a one-to-one ratio of water-to-rice, regardless of variety.

Thai Sticky Rice

Thai sticky rice of any color, purple included, is traditionally steamed in a bamboo basket. First, soak the black and white glutinous rice together in water for several hours, up to eight, even. This allows the pigments of the black rice to tint the white rice with a purple hue. Then place the soaked rice in a bamboo basket and steam it over boiling water. You can line the bamboo basket with cheesecloth to make the tacky rice easier to remove when done.

A simple hack if you don't have a bamboo basket is to use a mesh strainer or colander with two handles in place of a basket. Simply set the soaked rice in either tool over a pot of boiling water with the right size rim for stability. Take care not to let the water reach the bottom of the rice to prevent purple mush. Cover the colander and pot with as tight of a seal as possible using a lid or foil. This will help minimize steam loss, which will help the rice cook faster.


The Nutrition Information below is based on cooking two cups of black rice in water.

  • Author: Christina
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10-25 minutes
  • Category: Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Korean/Chinese/Thai
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • Serving Size: ½ cup of rice
  • Calories: 160
  • Sodium: 290.7 mg
  • Fat: 1.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 34 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: purple rice, purple rice recipe, forbidden rice, black rice, how to cook black rice, sticky rice, glutinous rice