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How to Cook Black Sticky Rice Recipe – Khao Niew Dam

Black sticky rice, a flavorful whole-grain alternative to white rice called khao niew dam, is black when uncooked, turning purple when steamed, that results in a chewy, sticky, gummy textured rie that you can top with sesame seeds and coconut flakes. I’m sharing a simple method for making Thai black sticky rice that is both authentic, delicious, and undeniably tasty.

Thai black sticky rice originates out of Thailand. When this black rice is steamed authentically, a gorgeous purple hue from the rice makes an appearance. There are various ways to use black sticky rice in a recipe, including in porridge, pudding, and a custard. However, I’m sharing with you how to steam black rice for a simple dessert. 

And, let’s be honest, I often serve this as a wholesome breakfast for my kids when they were little. Thai and Lao folklore often sites black sticky rice as being able to strengthen internal organs, calm nerves, and banish depression. From my perspective, any time I have served black rice to my family, they always end up with a smile on their face, evidence of that folklore.

Thai black sticky rice

I’m going to share with you all you’ve ever wanted to know about Thai black sticky rice! To be quite honest, it is prepared similar to regular white Thai sticky rice with a few considerations you need to take into account for making black sticky rice.

All About Black Thai Sticky Rice

This simple side dish and dessert is an amazingly popular street stall favorite in the countries of Thailand and Laos. The nutty flavor of black/purple rice pairs wonderfully with sweetened coconut flakes, coconut cream, and pretty much any fruit and fruit syrup.

Thai black sticky rice

What is Thai black sticky rice?

Thai black sticky rice is a whole grain glutinous rice that turns a deep violet color once cooked. The unique dark outerbran of black sticky rice is why it is often called purple rice because it turns a deep purple or violet when cooked. Another color it could look like is indigo, with a shiny shell on the outside when steamed.

Black sticky rice can be categorized more of a short grain rice.

Uncooked, the rice has a look of deeply burnt rice. However, when it is steamed with white glutinous rice, a beautiful violet color emerges.

Thai black sticky rice

What does it taste like?

Thai black sticky rice has a delicious soft, gummy, and nutty flavor. It can also be equated to a flavor similar to wild rice. It can be eaten alone, topped with sesame seeds or coconut flakes, used in a pudding or custard. Black sticky rice is known for its sweet flavor.

What makes purple sticky rice Black and purple?

Black sticky rice has a deep black color and usually turns deep purple when cooked due to its anthocyanin content, which makes it weigh more than that of colored grains.

What country is Thai black sticky rice from?

Black Thai sticky rice is grown mainly in the country of Thailand. This black sticky rice is also known as purple rice and is popular in other countries like China.

In central Thailand, sweetened coconut milk, black beans, and a mixture of white and black sticky rice are roasted inside sections of bamboo cane.

In south Thailand, a thicker pudding of sweetened black rice is often cut into squares and served individually.

The most common variation is Thailand is steaming the black rice and topping with fruit OR as a sweet pudding for dessert.

Thai black sticky rice

What are other variations of black rice?

Black sticky rice can be made into a delicious custard and pudding dessert, like santakaya. I’ll be sharing some of these recipes soon!

Other Names for it

Because Thai uses a different script, often when Thai language is translated to English, the pronunciation of the dishes name gets phonetically sounded out when written. Below are the various names and monikers black glutinous rice is known for.

  • black sticky rice
  • purple sticky rice
  • wild sticky rice
  • Thai black sticky rice
  • Thai purple sticky rice
  • Thai black glutinous rice
  • Black sweet rice
  • kao niow dahm
  • khao neow dahm
  • khow niew dam
  • khao neow dam
  • kao gum
  • khao gum
  • Indonesian black rice
  • waxy rice

When translated here is what each of the words means:

  • Khao and the variations means rice
  • Niew and the variations means flexible or sticky
  • Dam and the variations means black.

When is Black Sticky Rice Served

Thai black sticky rice is often served as a dessert, usually as a pudding, custard or topped with something sweet, like a fruit.

Nutritional Content of Black Sticky Rice

Black rice is a whole grain. Black glutinous rice does not contain amylose, which, in addition to making rice sticky, helps slow down digestion and lowers insulin levels. Because black glutinous rice is unprocessed, this allows it to retain more of the other nutrients that allows it to be a healthy food choice overall. Similar to other rice varieties, naturally black rice is gluten-free grain.

Thai black sticky rice

Thai black rice by itself is kosher, gluten free, low fat with 213 calories per cup. Because of its high anthocyanin content, it has a lot of natural antioxidants that can be helpful in fighting cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases. Other foods that have anthocyanin content include blueberries, acai berries, purple potatoes, concord grapes, and eggplants.

It has a low glycemic index of 42.3, compared to regular white rice which has 73, and brown rice which has 68. It also contains three times as much fiber as white rice and is packed with eight essential vitamins which include zinc and riboflavin.

According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, black rice contains more antioxidant compounds than white rice. Antioxidants have been shown to promote heart health and may help lower the risk of some cancers. Black rice may help to increase the levels of good cholesterol.

Finding Thai Sticky Rice in a Grocery Store

Finding black sticky rice may be confusing at your local Asian grocer because a lot of the packaging is in non-English languages. If you are able to find black sticky rice with English writing, the right kind of black sweet sticky rice will have the words Thai, sweet, sticky, and glutinous, most often with just one of those words. You may also find the following words on the packaging, just make sure that the rice is black and includes the phrases:

  • Thai sweet rice
  • Thai glutinous rice
  • Thai sticky rice

 Good black sticky rice can be found at around $10 per pound.

In order to prepare the recipe below, you’ll also want to grab its sibling counterpart, white Thai sweet rice. That’s the secret for making this dish.

While you’re at the Asian grocer, pick up toasted sesame seeds because I can guarantee you that you’ll get 3x the amount for the same price as your local grocer.

Thai black sticky rice

Frequently Asked Questions About

Is black sticky rice the same as black rice?

Black sticky rice is not the same as black rice. Black sticky rice from Thailand is varied in color and has a nutty, gummy, and sticky texture when cooked whereas Chinese black rice is not.

Thai black sticky rice

Why is black rice forbidden?

Black rice from China is known as forbidden rice (which is not the same as Thai sticky rice). The folklore of black forbidden rice is actually from China. It was called forbidden rice because it was only available to Chinese emperors to ensure his health and longevity, thereby no one else was allowed to eat it. 

Is jasmine rice the same as sticky rice?

Jasmine rice is not the same as sticky rice. Sticky rice is a glutinous rice that is gummy and sticky in texture, whereas jasmine rice is softer and more like white grain rice.

Does black sticky rice taste like brown rice?

Black sticky rice does not taste like brown rice. Black sticky rice is more sticky and chewy in texture compared to brown rice.

Should you rinse black rice before cooking?

Black sticky rice needs to be rinsed until the water is clear before soaking and steaming.

Can you make black sticky rice in a rice cooker?

Black sticky rice should actually be made using an aluminum pot with a bamboo steamer.

How should black sticky rice be stored before cooking?

Like all other types of rice, black rice should be stored in a cool and dry place. Once it is opened from packaging, it should be stored in an airtight container and used within one year of purchase.

How should black sticky rice be stored after cooking?

Black sticky rice should be stored using a bamboo serving basket.

How long does purple sticky rice take to cook?

It takes longer than regular white sticky rice. Black thai sticky rice takes around 45 minutes to steam.

Thai black sticky rice

About This Authentic Thai Black Sticky Rice Recipe

The secret to cooking the perfectly chewy black sticky rice is 1 cup of black sticky rice to 2 cups of white sticky rice soaked for at least four hours.

Important: Black sticky rice does bleed when it is steamed, so make sure you use cheese cloth or a separate steaming basket for black rice versus when you are making the usual white sticky rice. I personally have a separate steaming basket for black rice versus white rice.

This is a simple recipe that shows you how to prepare black sticky rice and top it with a few simple ingredients to bring out the nutty flavor and enhance it with a little bit of sweetness. Sprinkling toasted sesame seeds adds a subtle crunch that highlights the nutty flavor of the rice. Adding sweetened coconut flakes on top provides a sweet flavor to top off the dish.

Thai black sticky rice

Adapting This Recipe

There are several ways you can pair Thai black sticky rice. Below are some of the ways you can modify it, replacing the coconut flakes with something else. In a future post, I’ll show you how to make Thai pudding/custard that you can top over the black rice as an alternative dessert topping.

  • pudding
  • mango
  • Thai custard
  • rambutan syrup drizzled over
  • coconut cream
  • mix black beans and coconut cream
  • top with fresh fruit

What You’ll Need For Making Thai Black Sticky Rice

Thai black sticky rice

How to Make Authentic Thai Black Sticky rice Recipe

This is a simple recipe on how to make black sticky rice in a steamer pot in the most authentic way possible.

Ingredients for

  • 1 cup of Thai black sticky rice
  • 2 cup of Thai white sticky rice
  • 1 cup of coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions for

  1. Measure the rice into separate bowls. Run your fingers through each of the rice to remove any big impurities. Thai black sticky rice
  2. Rinse both bowls a few times until the water runs clear. Mix both rice together and cover with at least a few inches of water. Allow the rice to soak for four or more hours or overnight (don’t rush this process). The black grains will absorb the water while it is soaking and grow in size.
  3. Add water to the aluminum pot for steaming so that when the basket is placed on top of the pot, it does not touch the water.
  4. Roughly drain as much water as you can from the rice.
  5. Spread the cheesecloth inside the bamboo basket to protect the basket, and drain the rice using the basket.Thai black sticky rice
  6. Let the rice drain in the bamboo baskets for a few minutes. Transfer the basket to the top of the aluminum pot. Cover with a lid. Thai black sticky rice
  7. Let it steam for a full 30 minutes.
  8. Take the basket off of the aluminum pot. Carefully remove the lid from the bamboo basket. With both hands, use a flicking motion to turn and flip the rice over in the basket. Place back on the aluminum pot.Thai black sticky rice
  9. Continue steaming for another 15 minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat and remove the bamboo basket from the pot. 
  11. Use a rice spatula to loosen up the rice. 
  12. Garnish with sesame seeds and sweetened coconut flakes.
  13. Serve warm.

Serving Thai Black Sticky Rice

Black sticky rice is not great at absorbing juices, moisture, or sauces, so if you need a grain that will accompany another dish that allows for absorbing those juices, this may not be the best dish to do that with. Presenting black sticky rice with salads, coconut shrimp, and rice pudding makes for a beautiful large gathering presentation due to the contrasting colors.

It is often served during big gatherings, like the Lao and Thai New Year Celebration and weddings.

Reheating Black Sticky Rice

To reheat black sticky rice, I would not recommend using a microwave, but rather using the bamboo steamer set to reheat it. 

All you need to do is place the pre-cooked black sticky rice back into the bamboo basket. Next, take it to your sink and run running water over the rice so you douse it with a layer of water for moisture. Next, place it back on the aluminum pot and allow it to steam for 15 minutes. It should taste just like you made it on the previous day.

Thai black sticky rice

Summary

As long as you have the right steaming set, you can make regular sticky rice and Thai black sticky rice on any given weeknight instead of having to visit your local Thai restaurant. I often make this for breakfast because it will keep you full, it’s hearty, and has a lot of nutritional properties (so as long as it is not doused in coconut cream). Black sticky rice has so many ways it can be adapted to make a different dessert or snack depending on your mood.

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Thai black sticky rice

Authentic Thai Black Sticky Rice

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

Delicious, nutty flavored Thai black sticky rice is an absolutely flavorful dish that you can serve as both a side dish or a dessert. This recipe will show you how to make this rich, nutty flavor and top it with some sesame seeds to enhance the nuttiness along with sweetened coconut flakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of black glutinous rice
  • 2 cups of white glutinous rice
  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup of coconut flakes, sweetened

Instructions

  1. Measure the rice into separate bowls. Run your fingers through each of the rice to remove any big impurities. 
  2. Rinse both bowls a few times until the water runs clear. Mix both rice together and cover with at least a few inches of water. Allow the rice to soak for four or more hours or overnight (don't rush this process). The black grains will absorb the water while it is soaking and grow in size.
  3. Add water to the aluminum pot for steaming so that when the basket is placed on top of the pot, it does not touch the water.
  4. Roughly drain as much water as you can from the rice.
  5. Spread the cheesecloth inside the bamboo basket to protect the basket, and drain the rice using the basket.
  6. Let the rice drain in the bamboo baskets for a few minutes. Transfer the basket to the top of the aluminum pot. Cover with a lid. 
  7. Let it steam for a full 30 minutes.
  8. Take the basket off of the aluminum pot. Carefully remove the lid from the bamboo basket. With both hands, use a flicking motion to turn and flip the rice over in the basket. Place back on the aluminum pot.
  9. Continue steaming for another 15 minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat and remove the bamboo basket from the pot. 
  11. Use a rice spatula to loosen up the rice. 
  12. Garnish with sesame seeds and sweetened coconut flakes.
  13. Serve warm.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 45mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 3g

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Thai black sticky rice

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