What is Mexican Rice?
As such traditional Mexican Cuisine didn’t feature rice on their menu. Corn was the staple at that time till the Spanish Colonizers introduced rice in Mexico around the 1520s. It was prepared in a similar way to the Spanish Rice but instead of saffron, cumin and red chili was used. Thus the main difference in the rice is the colour, while Spanish rice is yellow, Mexican rice is orange reddish. These days Mexican rice is served as a side dish with tacos, enchiladas, quesadilla, chili con carne, as stuffing for burritos, etc. Main ingredients for a Mexican rice are onion, garlic and tomatoes.
So when was the first time I ever tasted Mexican Rice? Well, when I was around 16 or 17 years old. At that time not all the world cuisines were as famous or well known as today. Every weekend my kaki (aunt) and I would go through our treasured Tarla Dalal recipes books to find a new recipe to try out. One of them was Mexican Rice. The recipe called for tomato sauce and that’s what we added, tomato sauce or ketchup! But now times have changed and we know better what ingredients to use. Some years ago I got the opportunity to taste Mexican rice at a Tex Mex restaurant in Orlando, am sure it was made with chicken stock. After returning from our trip, I started making some changes to the Tarla Dalal recipe and have perfected it to the way my family likes it.
How Is Mexican Rice made?
Actually, either long grain or medium grain rice is first stir fried in oil to make it a bit brownish and crunchy. Then its cooked with stock, usually chicken stock, vegetables till done. I tried that style and the family didn’t like the texture of the rice. So now I just make it without stir frying the rice. Usually, I tend to make it with leftover plain rice but its also possible to make it as a one pot dish using uncooked rice. As to the vegetables to use, the choice is really yours. My choice of vegetables are cabbage, carrot, onion, garlic, tomato, tomato salsa, red kidney beans and sometimes sweet pepper.
How To Serve The Rice?
Since I tend to add a lot of vegetables to the Mexican Rice, my family enjoys its more as a main meal than a side dish. We usually enjoy it with some plain yogurt and sometimes with nachos on the side. To make it extra special for my kids, I would sometimes add tiny cubes of cheddar cheese. You can serve it as a side dish with any other Mexican dish like tacos, enchiladas, quesadilla, etc.
Ingredients For Mexican Rice
- Rice, preferably long or medium grain. Can also use leftover rice.
- Onion sliced either white, yellow or red.
- Garlic, minced or finely chopped
- Paprika powder or Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- Cumin powder – roast cumin till it begins to crackle, and then grind into a powder
- Coriander Powder – roast coriander seeds till they begin to crackle. Cool and then grind into a powder.
- Carrots, peeled and grated
- Cabbage, finely chopped or use a mandolin
- Cooked Red Kidney Beans or use Black Beans. Use canned, fresh, or soak the dried ones overnight and cook in a pressure cooker the next day.
- Fresh Coriander or Cilantro, washed and chopped
- Chopped Tomato – I do not remove the skin or seeds.
- Smooth Tomato Salsa Sauce or fresh tomato puree
- Sweet Pepper or Bell Pepper, any colour of your choice, diced
Other Rice Dishes You May Want to Try Out:
- Renu’s Veg Schezwan Fried Rice
- Jolly’s Saffron Sweet Rice
- Amaranth Fried Rice
- Mushroom Egg Fried Rice
- Beetroot Rice
- Lemon Rice
- Brown Chickpea Pulao
- Gluten Free
- For Satvik option omit onion and garlic
MEXICAN RICE - VEGETARIAN
FOR THE RICE:
- 1 cup rice
- 2 cups water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil
FOR ADDING TO THE RICE:
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 cup cooked red or balck kideny beans
- ½ cup fresh coriander/cilanto, chopped
- ½ cup diced bell pepper, any colour
- 1 tsp dreid oregano
- 1 tsp paprika/kashmiri red chilli powder
- ½ cup fresh salsa sauce or thick tomato puree
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
PREPARATION OF THE RICE:
- Rinse the rice in water several times.
- Add 2 cups of water and let the rice soak for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the rice along with the water into a saucepan. Add salt and oil.
- Cook over medium heat till the rice is done. Don’t overcook it.
- Spread out the cooked rice in a plate or tray for it to cool down completely.
PREPARATION OF MEXICAN RICE:
- Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and stir fry it till it becomes soft and translucent.
- Add garlic paste and saute for a few seconds
- Add paprika powder or Kashmiri red chili powder and give it a quick stir.
- Immediately add the cabbage and carrot.
- Add salt and mix well.
- Lower the heat, cover the pan and let the vegetables cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, kidney beans, cumin powder,coriander powder, oregano and the tomato or salsa sauce.
- Mix well. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add rice and coriander. Mix it gently.
- Serve Mexican rice with your favorite Mexican dish or on its own.
- Add vegetables of your choice.
- Add chopped spring onion for added flavour.
- For fresh tomato puree, cook 2-3 chopped tomatoes in a pan till they become soft. Puree them in a blender.
- Can use fresh red kidney beans, tinned or if using dried ones you need to soak the beans overnight in warm water. Next day drain out the water, add the beans to a pan or pressure cooker with enough water and some salt. Cook till done. If using a pressure cooker, let it cook for 4 – 6 whistles.
- Ideal rice dish for parties as you can prepare the plain rice a day ahead. Cook the vegetables and add the rice.
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