“Purple rice, purple riicceee”- Prince voice. This rice is not dyed with food coloring. Purple rice uses the natural colors of red cabbage and red onion to color the white rice. One thing that natural food coloring does that artificial does not, is that it also flavors the food! This rice has a slight ‘cabbagey’ flavor, but is mostly overpowered by the ginger and garlic, which is a great way to trick the picky eater into eating red cabbage! The pigment in red cabbage comes from molecules called ‘anthocyanins’ which interact with the pH of the environment and changes color accordingly. Since red onions are slightly acidic, the pigment of the dye produced by the red cabbage turns pinkish-purple, where as if it was a completely alkaline or basic ingredient, it would turn green. Pretty cool, huh?!
The importance of color in cooking and eating:
You know the old saying, “you eat with your eyes”? Well it is 100% true when it comes to the human species. Our brains have been wired to find our food with our eyes in order to hunt/forage it for survival. Color, gloss, shape and learned associations can all have an immediate effect on how we perceive our food to taste. One study demonstrated that adding food coloring (red, green, or yellow) to a clear solution, made people detect certain basic tastes at a higher level when those tastes were presented in the solution. (2) “Adding green food coloring decreased people’s detection threshold for sourness, while at the same time increasing the threshold for the detection of sweetness. The addition of yellow coloring reduced the detection threshold for both sourness and sweetness, while the addition of red coloring reduced the threshold for the detection of bitterness.” (1)
Have you guys checked out ‘Thrive Market’ yet? It’s an online grocery store that specifically sells quality items that are vegan, vegetarian, organic, paleo, whole 30 and much more! Plus everything is so inexpensive because they get the items straight from the manufacturer. It is a $60 membership fee (same as Costco and BJ’s), but most members say they make that money back in the first few orders. And if you DON’T make it back, Thrive Market will refund you the difference! So what are you waiting for? Get the healthy foods you love delivered straight to your door for a fraction of the cost.
So what does this mean for our purple rice?
Well, it means that who ever you serve this rice to MIGHT perceive the rice to taste a certain way PRIOR to actually tasting it. All in all, it doesn’t mean much. But it’s pretty interesting, is it not?! And if you have children or family members who are picky eaters, its a great way to get them to eat red cabbage without them even knowing it! Just place a bowl of pretty purple rice in front of them, tell them it’s ‘purple people eater food’ and watch them gobble it down, unknowingly ingesting high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids!
(1) Spence, C. On the psychological impact of food colour. Flavour 4, 21 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13411-015-0031-3
(2)Maga JA. Influence of color on taste thresholds. Chem Senses Flavor. 1974;1:115–9.
- 1/3 cup white wine Dry is best, but any will do except Moscato or Riesling (too sweet)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped red cabbage
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp ginger, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups white rice
- 3 cups water
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp oil (olive, avocado, coconut, canola…whatever you have)
- In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium/high heat. Add chopped red onion and chopped red cabbage to the pot and cook over medium/high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Now add the white wine, ginger and garlic. Braise for another 5 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
- Mix in the white rice until fully combined with the cabbage and red onion. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add your water: If you are cooking for less/more than 4 people, remember the 1:2 ratio. If you are using 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water, 2 cups of rice, 4 cups of water and so on.
- Add your salt and do not stir. Stirring the rice will make it more prone to burning. Place a lid over the top and simmer for 20-25 minutes until all of the water is absorbed. Take off of heat and let sit another 5 minutes with the lid on. Enjoy!
Did you like my ‘Purple Rice’ recipe? If so, go check out my ‘One Pot Chicken and Lentil Stew‘ recipe!