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What herbs and spices can I use to turn white rice black in color?

In case anyone’s been to (or lives in) Los Angeles, there is an Indian restaurant there called Tantra. One of their specialties is “black rice”, which is actually a saffron rice that they cook with oils and spices until it blackens. It is literally jet black in color, but of course, they will not reveal their recipe to turn the white/yellow rice black.
P.S. Please do not tell me “black food coloring” or “burn it”, because that is NOT what they do.
Does anyone else know??? Much appreciated.


  1. Squid ink or octopus ink is what is primarily used to make white rice black. There is a breed of naturally black rice (Not “Wild Rice” which isn’t actually in the Rice Family at all) but that is expensive and isn’t commonly found in the US.
    You can usually find squid or octopus ink for sale in Asian Grocery Stores. Call around before you go looking to save time.
    It doesn’t add much flavor but I am 99% sure that is what the restaurant you go to uses for color.
    Heck, call the restaurant and just ask what they use… Tell them it is because of an allergy or something.
    I bet they tell you what it is.
    Cephalopod ink: Use By Humans
    Cephalopod ink has, as its name suggests, been used in the past as ink; indeed, the Greek name for cuttlefish, and the taxonomic name of a cuttlefish genus, Sepia, is associated with the brown colour of cuttlefish ink. For slightly more information, see Sepia (color) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepia_(color)
    Modern use of cephalopod ink is generally limited to cooking, where it is used as a food colouring, for example in pasta and sauces. For this purpose it is generally obtainable from fishmongers. The ink is extracted from the ink sacs during preparation of the dead cephalopod, usually squid, and therefore contains no mucus.

  2. What is the point of adding the saffron then if they were just going to blacken it? I guess it is kind of like a blackened catfish recipe. Where they use spices and then put it in a heavy iron skillet and cook it. But if that doesn’t work, then I wouldn’t know since it is their secret and they could of came up with that recipe. Just like Applebees and their famous riblets. I was thinking they used wild/black rice though.

  3. I am an Indian and the way we make it is in Iron Karahi ( wok)
    heat oil in it and add Shahi Zeera ( Black Cumin seeds) they help in making it blackish brown.
    Add sliced onions, peas or you can even add vegetables to it. Add salt,Black Pepper powder,cumin powder,garam masala and rice.Stir fry for some time then add water and cook till done.
    Hope this is what you are looking for!! !!


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