Why not carve out a future in Chakhao?


Dr Debina Sanasam
A future in Chakhao? Seems plausible? Or not? Let’s try to see this a bit deeper. In recent times, we have heard of news speaking about droughts and floods and recurrences of it. In a year, the yield of rice are first decreased by droughts, then by floods and lastly by pests almost making it impossible to yield even for general consumption. This tops the list of all the woes of the farmers. Many questions has been arise about the replacements of rice by others due to insufficient productivity and also rice being bulky as food and almost shunned by many.  Now people wants a food that is not as bulky as rice but at the same time has the requirements to just fit into that criteria of being a wholesome foodgrain. Black rice has been in the spotlight since time immemorial for being the “Emperor’s Rice” and Chakhao of Manipur might just have a story of its own to tell. Different nicknames has been given to this black beauty from Manipur including “Black Gold” and even “Heirloom’s Rice”. Today, any tabloids talking and discussing black rice or rice will have Chakhao as one of its key contestants. And it always excels in all the categories whether we talk about its black colour coupled with aroma and stickiness, its nutritional value or its palate.  This rice variety pulls the interest of almost all the sections of the society, whether it’s the scientists or the health experts, or it’s the doctors or the atheletes, Chakhao has something to offer to all.  The story of Chakhao may correlate to the story of “ugly duckling” among the rice variety as its colour and form is deviated from what is normal or common among the rice group but comes out to be the best at the end. It is the only rice variety that has antioxidants, the anthocyanin - the pigments which gives blueberries/ blackberries their dark colour and it’s the credit of this pigment that gives Chakhao its acquired recognition. Chakhao has woven itself into the socio- cultural and religious lives of the Meiteis since time long past. In any kind of feast, Chakhao serves as an irreplaceable palate in the buffet. Because of its fine colour coupled with stickiness and aroma, and a taste that is matchless, Meiteis has given the name “Chakhao” which literally and uniquely translates as “ Delicious Rice “ in Meiteilon (dialects of the Meiteis).
Since time immemorial, Chakhao has always been a champion in winning hearts and   talking about Manipur where this rice is nurtured by nature, it is called the “Lands of God”, a land bejeweled with beautiful landscapes and favourable climatic hotspots, making it one of the most fertile subtropical farming zone of Asia. It is said that the climatic condition of a place heavily influenced the vegetation and in this case, the soil and climate of Manipur has bestow its beauty and uniqueness in this rice variety. Chakhao is categorized differently from other varieties of black rice found across the globe in being a delicacy having deep purple colour and fragranced.
Chakhao comes as a full package for value added products with its unique traits like colour, aroma, flavor, stickiness and therapeutical products. If the foodie is looking for something to upload on their social network platforms before indulging then they are in for a treat because Chakhao opens a plethora of uniqueness and attractiveness with it being used as a main part in many dishes including Korean, Japanese, Western etc. And if a health freak is looking for something to replace the whole protein but with minus the weight gain, then Chakhao comes with a surprise – a whole protein based plant minus the weight issues because this black rice decreases weight rather than increase it. In today’s world, where people spent most of the day hours infront of their work desk, it is a challenge to maintain a healthy body and mind.  Talking about body, how many of us usually take out time for a morning session at the gym or a morning exercise? We usually enrolled in a gym but in the end we end up skipping most of the session. And whatever weight we sheds, it comes back full on and more.
Here in Manipur, usually we take a heavy lunch before starting our day at the office or workplace and this gradually build up into weight over days/months. I am well experienced in this situation. I guess most of us will agree on this, that we need something which is healthy, delicious, wholesome and most importantly shed weights rather than gain it. Chakhao gives all these and more. Okay here, if you have come this far, then you will be questioning right now as to how can we eat Chakhao everyday? How can we make it edible like white rice on a daily basis?  How healthy is the Chakhao?
[email protected])/Green Foundation