Mexican Rice and the Pilaf that wasn't


You know how it happens, when your mother is always right. Mine wasn't even trying and she was, she's that good at it. Today I rang up to ask what she thought about acid reflux (oh, nice) and after clarifying the issue (you need to either gnaw some chalk, or drink a dash of cider vinegar - though she put it better than that), without even being there she managed to inform me that what I was cooking for supper was not what I had decided it was - rice pilaf- but actually Mexican Rice.

Mother is always right so I went along with it, abandoning the chopped apricots, almonds and lamb stock for ground cumin and coriander seed. I lobbed in more tomatoes, sighing with relief for the small dint it made in the rather impressive queue marching its way along the counter- the legacy of some typically impulsive sowing and being soft hearted when it came to pricking out the weaker ones. What else did I put in....garlic. Lotsa garlic. More cumin, a dash of salt. Some coriander leaves and that was it.

Tonight we had it with lamb. Tomorrow I will put the extras (always make extra) in fat dollops on tortillas with lettuce and cheddar with a few freckled leaves of chicory for edge. Wrapped up cold they're wraps. Wrapped up hot and they're burritos.

This recipe is written under the assumption that we all know how to cook rice the way we like it. Thats why I've been so rubbish with keeping track of exact water quantities and timings. Sincerest apologies to rice virgins. My advice based on the early days is to keep your chin up and just resign yourself to one or two very burned pan bottoms.

Mexican Rice

However much rice as you so desire, rinsed. I usually do about three teacup fulls, so thats enough for 2 people, plus leftovers.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, thoroughly squished and diced
1 handful cherry tomatoes give or take a few extras, depending on what your tomato population is, plus about half a tablespoon of tomato concentrate.
One table spoon each of coriander seed and cumin, though you should consider adding this a little at a time. I really like coriander seed and cumin.
1 bell pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped into large chunks
Salt to taste

Also optional are peas - best added at the very end-, courgettes or french beans.

Sweat the onions for a few minutes in the oil, then add the tomatoes and pepper. Let everything melt into each other for about five minutes, poking and prodding where necessary to pop the tomatoes (not actually necessary but you'll want to) then add the rice and another glug of oil to lubricate things a bit. Stir, then pour in enough boiling water to just cover things. Add half the ground spices and cover with a lid. Cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Top up with a splash or two of water when things start looking dry and keep testing the rice, adding any extras that you might like. Some like their rice very well cooked (if you do, try to resist stirring too much as this can make the rice granules mushy) others prefer it al dente. I like a bit of bite so about twenty to thirty minutes is enough for brown rice. Taste and add more salt or spices, then dish out with a crisp and crunchy salad and coriander leaves.

You Might Also Like


  1. Whatever happened to the poor neglected chopped apricots? I've found that since having children I've had to start cooking rice in the microwave - all the distractions were playing havoc with the bases of my pans...


Gimme some Facebook love

Popular Posts