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Black Forbidden Rice Arancini

Forbidden Rice Arancini
Forbidden Rice AranciniNathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
40 mins
30-40 rice balls

Chef notes

The color of the black rice with the digestive charcoal is surprising but the flavor is deep and rich so it's fun to see the initial skepticism on people's faces before they bite it and then react to the delicious taste.

Technique tip: Make sure the rice mixture is creamy and well seasoned before cooling.

Swap option: You can use Arborio rice instead of the forbidden rice, and you can use pumpernickel breadcrumbs instead of charcoal breadcrumbs.


  • 10 cups vegetable stock, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 tablespoons activated charcoal powder
  • cups extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups black forbidden rice
  • 1/2 cups finely diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 cup ½-inch cubed Provolone cheese
  • 1 cup flour 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup black breadcrumbs, finely ground in food processor
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Black lava salt, for finishing
  • Black honey, for garnish
  • 2 eggs



In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil, then add charcoal powder and dissolve.


In a saucepan over medium heat, add 1/2 cup of the olive oil and diced onions and cook until soft. When the onions are translucent, add the rice and cook down, making sure to coat with the oil, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and sauté for another minute or so, but make sure the garlic doesn't brown.


Add 1 cup of hot charcoal broth until the rice is just covered, stirring continuously until the broth is just above the surface of the rice, keeping the liquid at a consistent boil. Repeat this process until you have added all the broth and the risotto mixture is cooked through. Add water if rice isn't fully cooked.


Turn off the heat and stir in the cubed butter, lemon zest, shredded mozzarella and grated Parmigiano Reggiano until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


Remove the pan from the heat and spread the risotto on the baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray and let cool. Once it has cooled, use a small ice cream scoop to portion the risotto and, using your hands, form balls of about 2 ounces (about 2 inches in diameter). Take a Provolone cube and insert it into the center of each ball, carefully sealing the rice around.


Place the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Dredge one risotto ball first with the flour, then with the egg wash and finally with the breadcrumbs, then place it back on the sprayed baking sheet. Repeat this process until all the risotto balls have been coated thoroughly.


In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the remaining olive oil until it is almost smoking. Working in batches, cook the arancini in the oil until they become golden brown and toasted all over.


Remove each rice ball to a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan, sprinkle with black lava salt, drizzle with black honey and serve immediately.