Moroccan Forbidden Rice Salad Recipe


Antioxidant-rich black rice, also known as forbidden rice, forms the foundation for this vegan Moroccan Forbidden Rice Salad. If you’re craving something lemony and delicious, this forbidden rice salad has you covered. Besides the black rice — which, has a nice chewy texture — it’s made with chickpeas, dates, pistachios, green onion, and cilantro, and cinnamon, and it’s dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

I adapted this recipe from Annie Fenn, MD, founder of Brain Health Kitchen. Annie’s irresistible recipes feature brain-healthy foods from the MIND Diet, also referred to in scientific circles as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet, a blend of two diets—the traditional Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, shown to lower blood pressure. The MIND Diet includes 10 healthy food groups, and this forbidden rice salad calls for several of them including black rice (a whole grain), pistachios (nuts), chickpeas (beans), cilantro ( leafy greens), and olive oil for cooking. I encourage you to check out Annie’s website for her beautiful, brain-boosting recipes and her sage advice on the link between lifestyle and diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. I also welcome you to listen to my recent podcast interview with Annie on the best diet for brain health.

Forbidden rice has a mild, nutty flavor. It’s a whole grain (hooray!), and the grains are purple-black in color. Like blueberries and blackberries, black or forbidden rice contains a family of antioxidants known as, anthocyanins,  shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while boosting brain health. Black rice also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants important for eye health. You can hear more about anthocyanins on the podcast.

Where can you find forbidden or black rice? You can order it on Amazon or look for it in specialty markets. I searched the bulk bin at Whole Foods and had no luck, but I found black rice in these convenient, microwavable pouches.

In the spirit of full disclosure to my readers, when it comes to cooking rice, I’m kind of lazy and prefer the pouches and the frozen rice. They’re convenient and come out perfect every time!


  • 3 cups cooked black rice (AKA forbidden rice)
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1¾ cups)
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced (white to green tops)
  • ⅓ cup pitted dates, chopped
  • ⅓ cup shelled and unsalted pistachios, toasted
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • ½ large lemon, zested and juiced (to yield 2 tablespoons juice)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Place the rice, chickpeas, green onion, dates, pistachios, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, ground cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste in a small lidded jar and shake to combine.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the rice mixture and stir until the rice is coated with the dressing and everything is combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: Makes four 1-cup servings. You can turn this into a main meal by topping with grilled chicken, baked salmon, or any other favorite protein.