Banza Releases Rice Made from Chickpeas—Is It as Good as the Real Thing?

Banza has been a leader in the grain-free pasta world for some time now. (They topped PEOPLE’s Food Faves list of best pastas in 2017.) But on Wednesday the company entered uncharted territory with their latest product: chickpea rice.

When we first heard about Banza Rice, it was a bit of head-scratcher. Rice is naturally gluten-free, and pretty healthy to begin with if you’re opting for brown rice.

We quickly learned that while not as common as gluten, rice is also a common food allergy, and by making it with chickpeas, you’re getting more fiber, more protein and less carbs—allergy or not. But does it taste like the real thing? For the most part, the answer is yes. Way more than cauliflower rice claims to anyway.

When used in traditional rice-based dishes, like burrito bowls, rice balls and paella, you’d hardly be able to tell the difference. The shape and size are spot on, but the texture is more like orzo than white rice. Everyone loves orzo though, right? So not much of a problem there.

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The other main difference is that like Banza pasta, you need to cook the rice in boiling water and then drain it in a mesh sieve. The chickpea rice doesn’t absorb as much water as regular rice does, so first you strain it and then the directions suggest adding it back to the pot and fluffing it with a fork. Beware that the rice will stick to the pot if you add it back in and leave it on the stove for a little while, so we’d recommend transferring it to another bowl to do the fluffing there instead.

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Even leftovers hold up well in the fridge—just make sure to heat them back up before eating because they’re not particularly tasty cold.

If you’re interested in finding inspiration for how to use this new superfood—which is available in Whole Foods Markets nationwide—look to Banza’s Instagram account. Their running a month-long Banza Bowl challenge where fans are sharing delicious recipes featuring the product.

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