Why not carve out a future in Chakhao?-II

    29-Feb-2020
Dr Debina Sanasam
In the last article I was talking about how it would be if chakhao can be made edible like white rice on a daily basis. I will slowly come to that because it will take a whole technology to make chakhao a daily rice source. In this article, let’s focus more on the value added products already available in the markets like the chakhao cake, cookies, laddoo, bhujia and most recently donuts which has become permanent items on the shelves.  Other than these products there are some consumables which are prepared as fast foods like the chakhao tan, chakhao bora, chakhao puri etc. and among the beverages too, there is the chakhao cha (tea) and chakhao brew which comes off as a delicacies to the people, though they have not been commercialized. These consumables serves as the eye openers for the “Chakhao Era” as these have their own nutritional value and might as well help in arousing the curiosity of the general mass. Apart from all the mentioned products there is provision of making various other products from chakhao as it has all the ingredients for being cuisines or cosmetics or cures. Nowadays a number of cuisines can be reinvented with chakhao as one of its main components or sidekick. It just does not taste good but increase the aesthetic value also. Being said, chakhao is nowadays used in many western and popular cuisines which being one of the reason why this particular black rice is turning heads these days. Because of its unique and one of a kind colour among rice, Chakhao can also aids in food industry by being a natural coloring agent whose color varies from pink to purple, the purplish hues being the doings of anthocyanin, an antioxidant present only in black rice. This, in the future  has the capacity to replaced the artificial colorant usually used in food industry and usage of which is now being criticised for behavioural disorders in children. Being a rich disposition of antioxidants, Chakhao becomes an ideal candidate for being use in cosmetics especially face products and hair products. It acts as a good detoxifying agent by retaining its antioxidants which is vital in maintaining skin, hair and immune health. Other than being a good detox, it also acts as a gentle exfoliant and helps in conditioning various skin types and as these black rice bran also ensures deep nourishment, they comes as a full package for body care products. These products are promoted and developed immensely in east countries like Japan, Korea, Thailand etc. Looking into it, the small state of Manipur is also not lagging behind as there is body care products like shop made out of chakhao. It’s encouraging to see such progress and it’s a beginning but more can be achieved and it will be more attractive if there is a description of the product as well as the nutritional percentage index on display on food products, that way people would know what they are getting into. Apart from that, working with chakhao is surely interesting as it opens a plethora of opportunities and varieties. Then again, you are working with the treasure house of antioxidants which is like playing with health which seems rather challenging. Chakhao being a storehouse of various nutritional benefits can enlist its name in making medicine for various purposes. Nature has bestow different kinds of rice like the red rice, white rice, black rice and brown rice but amongst these, black rice emerge as the winner for health and nutrition. Every blog and every page as I mentioned earlier highlights chakhao as a superfood, talking about its therapeutical properties and medicinal values. As I looked up for information regarding the black rice, I came across many questions like “Is black rice a superfood or just a super hyped food? “ “ Does black rice lived up to its hype?” or “ Is black rice really a superfood or just a marketing hype?”  The same goes with chakhao. Regarding this food, we always have an imaginary assumption that chakhao is healthy and nutritious but the question of “How actually it is”  always remained unanswered? And this fact came to light when the question was put forward to a couple of food processors working on chakhao. We are mostly ignorant when it comes to black rice or locally say chakhao, in terms of production or in terms of knowhow mostly because it’s not our everyday palate or not a very contributing factor to the pocket. But in this new era, when the world is ready for this black beauty once again, it’s time we bring forth our own indigenous product too. There are a whole lots of articles talking about the benefits of black rice so what I am going to summarise here is not new. The nutrition of black rice locally chakhao is superior to any other rice, coming out as a wholesome nutritious grain with low sugar, salt and no gluten or cholesterol content at all. With 18 amino acids, it is the only rice with the highest content of protein.  The dark colour of chakhao indicates its rich iron content which thus gives benefit to anaemic people as it gives a whole plant based iron diet.
High in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, chakhao sure does stand firm as a superfood. In today’s world where every scientists and food nutritionists are looking for solutions to the ever impending diseases, a solution to obesity and overall whole health grain, this purple hued rice comes as a “Panacea” which fights cancer, heart diseases, diabetic ailments among others. Chakhao is fibrous and consumption of it makes a person feel full and hence is associated with the reduction in weight when consumed regularly and facilitates easy bowel movements thus helping in detoxification.
White rice makes the body prone to diabetes as it triggers unstable rise and fall in blood glucose levels due to high sugar content which is not the case in chakhao/ black rice as sugar is low and the amount of fibre content is high and along with the inclusion of essential minerals, this black rice proves a boon to the diabetic person. This purple hued rice can also combats allergic reactions of the body by regulating the production of histamine. Chakhao is a longevity grain which enhances health and also focuses on other part of the health like the eye vision or other related old age problems, protects bones from osteoporosis and reduces risk of asthma. The overall summarization  proves the worth of chakhao and that it does live upto the reputation of being a superfood and has the potential to  become the food of the era.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]