Eight-Treasures Rice with Vegan Chia Caviar Dressing

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Description
Eight-treasures rice has been a great find during my time in China, and one of the few easily available organic ingredients in the local supermarkets. Typically, it is used for a sweet rice pudding-type traditional dish at New Year’s. I enjoy it instead of plain rice with a meal because it is a nutrient-rich option as a starchy accompaniment to a complete meal.

It’s a delicious combination of the following eight ingredients:

White rice
Red rice
Black rice
Buckwheat
Yellow millet
Black millet
Coix seed (Chinese barley, also known as job’s tears)
Sorghum

You can buy it already mixed in bags, and as you can imagine, the texture is much more interesting than that of plain rice. The colour too is more interesting, as the black rice turns the mixture purple when cooked, no matter how much you rinse it first.

Nutritionally-speaking, it is far superior to the standard white rice side dish, since it is devoid of bran and rather acidic. Millet is the least acidic grain, and red rice too is also the least acidic rice. The black rice is high in anti-oxidants and fibre, like most purple foods, and the red rice is a high-fibre whole grain proven to reduce Type 2 Diabetes, a well-known prized ingredient on the revolutionary Ornish Lifestyle Medicine programme. Both are nutty in flavour.

The coix seed interestingly features as one of the healing foods in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), often used as a key ingredient in health teas. It is said to to be helpful in treating allergies (though this goes largely unsupported through formal scientific studies), but has been scientifically proven to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol). The sorghum, a staple in both the US and many Asian countries, is an extremely nutritious gluten-free whole-grain, consuming it boosts overall nutrient intake. Read more about buckwheat in my Raw Buckwheat & Fig Yoghurt recipe.

The vegan caviar is fascinating, I think I tried it first in a little vegan cafe in Goa, India, Shantaram as I recall it. It tastes just like caviar, but of course, it’s base of chia seeds and seaweed make it extra healthy. I write about the praised chia seed in my Hot Chia Seed and Walnut Rice Milk, so take a read. As for the seaweed, well, sea vegetables are especially known for aiding in weight loss, and healthy in their vast range of mineral and nutrient content, but I won’t bore you here since there are so many to mention.

This recipe serves 2 portions of rice or 1 if you like intense flavours.

Ingredients
Lemons, juice and zest,
Fresh dill, finely chopped, 2 handfuls 
Chia seeds, soaked, 3/4 cup
Water, 1 cup
Extra-virgin olive oil, a few drizzles 
Smoked paprika, a pinch        
Tamari, 1 tbsp
Seaweed powder (like a kelp, chorella and/or nori one), 1 tsp    
Sea salt, to taste            
Ground pepper, to taste 

Preparation Time
This rice cooks in 45 minutes + 10 minutes to prepare the dressing.

Preparation
1. Add all ingredients to a bowl (except for the fresh dill).

  1. Pour over the water, stir well and leave to marinade in the fridge for as long as possible (the longer the more intense the flavour). If you need to, add more water to loosen the mixture.
  2. Add the fresh dill at the end and both mix in well and sprinkle as a garnish before pouring it on your portion if rice.

Optional
Add roughly chopped fresh parsley to the rice before serving. If you can get hold of it, I think celery salt works wells here too, or even the delicious and nutritious Herbamare. You could also flavour the water by boiling it with dulse or kombu seaweed, and remove it before preparing the mixture.

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