This Black Rice and Beans recipe is an easy, vegan rice salad with forbidden black rice, protein-rich kidney beans, diced mango, crunchy peanuts, and fresh cilantro. It works great for meal prep, and you can serve it as either a hearty side dish or plant-based entree. So simple to make, and it's filling and healthy, too!
This balanced black rice and beans dish is inspired by South Asian flavors. It has a lot of ingredients that are used in Indian cooking.
My favorite part is the mango. It adds sweet, tropical bursts of flavor to an otherwise savory dish. Just so delicious.
If you haven't tried forbidden black rice, a salad is a great place to start. Black rice has a mild, nutty taste that pairs well with the peanuts and mango in this particular recipe.
The nice thing about rice and beans is that they make a complete and balanced vegan meal all on their own.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this black rice salad at home.
- Sesame oil (I like the flavor of toasted sesame oil best)
- Lime juice
- White vinegar
- Ground cumin
- Garlic powder
- Ground ginger
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
- Black rice (also called forbidden rice)
- Kidney beans (use canned beans or cook dried beans in advance)
- Diced mango (I like to use pre-diced mango stored in fruit juice for convenience, but you can also chop fresh mango into small pieces yourself)
- Red bell pepper
- Green onion
- Cilantro (optional)
- Peanuts (I use roasted and salted peanuts, but raw and/or unsalted peanuts also work.)
See recipe card for quantities.
Before you make this salad, you'll need to cook one cup of dry black rice, which yields three cups cooked.
I like to use the Instant Pot to cook black rice, but you can cook it on the stovetop, too. Here's a quick rundown of how to prep it both ways.
How to Cook Black Rice in an Instant Pot
Rinse one cup dry black rice and transfer to the inner pot of the Instant Pot with one cup of water. Add a pinch of salt if you want.
Give it a little stir if needed so that the rice is completely covered with water.
Secure the lid and cook the rice on manual high pressure for 18 minutes. Wait and allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes. Then, turn the valve to release the remaining pressure.
Finally, uncover, fluff with a fork, and serve.
How to Cook Black Rice on the Stovetop
Rinse one cup dry black rice and transfer to a pot with 1 ¾ cups water. Add a pinch of salt if you want, and bring the pot to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes (there should be some small bubbles throughout cooking), or until the liquid is absorbed.
Remove the pot from heat and let it sit for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Once the rice is cooked, follow these steps to make the rest of the salad.
Make the dressing. Whisk sesame oil, lime juice, vinegar, ground cumin, garlic powder, ground ginger, cayenne pepper (if using), and salt.
Prep the salad. Mix the cooked black rice with kidney beans, mango, red bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, and peanuts.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until it's all evenly coated.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with lime wedges and additional cilantro, peanuts, and green onions if desired.
Hint: Prep the salad in a large mixing bowl. This makes it easier to mix the ingredients and get them all evenly coated with dressing. After the salad is mixed, you can transfer it to a smaller serving dish for the table.
This black rice salad is naturally vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Here are a few substitutions you could make depending on additional diet preferences or the ingredients you have on hand.
- Rice - If you can't find black rice, substitute brown basmati rice or wild rice.
- Beans - Instead of kidney beans, use chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, or black beans.
- Cilantro - Omit the cilantro if you're not a fan. You can also use chopped baby spinach instead.
- Peanuts - Leave out the peanuts or substitute sunflower seeds to make this recipe peanut-free.
There are lots of ways you can change up this recipe to give it a new feel. Here are a few ideas.
- Coconut rice - Prepare the rice with coconut milk instead of water for extra tropical flavor.
- Thai-inspired - Use peanut sauce instead of the dressing in the recipe for a Thai-inspired flavor profile.
- Mexican-inspired - For the dressing, substitute avocado oil for the sesame oil and use dry oregano instead of ginger. For the salad, use pinto beans instead of kidney beans and pumpkin seeds instead of peanuts.
For another filling, plant-based salad that uses peanuts, try my Easy Edamame Crunch Salad.
You don't need any specialty equipment to make this recipe.
Use a colander or fine mesh strainer for draining.
Cook the black rice in a regular pot on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot/pressure cooker. Keep in mind that you'll use less water if you cook the water in an Instant Pot. (Find instructions for both methods in the recipe notes.)
Other than that, you'll just need a knife and cutting board to prep the veggies and a large mixing bowl to toss everything together.
This recipe is great for meal prep. You can store the prepared black rice and beans in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to four days.
I haven't tried freezing this recipe yet, but it should hold up well in the freezer. Store it in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to three months. (If you end up trying this, be sure to share how it went in the comments!)
To cut down on prep time, I like to use pre-diced mango stored in fruit juice. Just make sure you drain the mango before you add it to the salad. You can also dice fresh mango yourself or use frozen mango chunks. If you use frozen mango, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then chop it into smaller, bite-size pieces before you add it to the salad.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Black rice is also called "forbidden rice" because, according to this NPR article, it was reserved only for the emperor and royalty in ancient China.
Black rice has even more protein and fiber than brown rice. It's also a rich source of antioxidants. Black rice gets its color from high levels of a phytonutrient called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin works as an antioxidant and has been studied for potential benefits related to cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and inflammation. Read more about the health benefits of black rice in this article from Food and Nutrition Magazine.
Like brown rice, forbidden black rice is a whole grain, with the nutritious bran and germ still attached.
Forbidden Black Rice and Beans with Mango
- Colander or fine mesh strainer
- Pot with lid or Instant Pot to cook rice
- Knife and cutting board
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablepoons lime juice (1 medium)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for spicy flavor)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 3 cups cooked black rice (see note)
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 ¼ cups cooked kidney beans)
- 1 cup diced fresh mango (see note)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green onion, chopped
- ½ cup chopped cilantro, (optional, see note)
- ½ cup shelled peanuts (I use roasted and salted)
Optional garnishes for serving
- Lime wedges
- Cilantro leaves
- Shelled peanuts
- Chopped green onion
Prepare the dressing:
- Whisk sesame oil, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, garlic powder, ginger, cayenne pepper (if using), and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Set aside.
Prepare the salad:
- Mix cooked black rice, kidney beans, mango, red bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, and peanuts in a large mixing bowl.
- Pour dressing over the salad and toss until the salad is evenly coated.
- Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with lime wedges and additional cilantro, peanuts, and green onions if desired.