Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mexican ("Spanish"?!) Rice

As I made my brunch/lunch yesterday, I had a sneaking feeling that I was being watched.

Sure enough...

There's a whole family of feral cats who live on our property; my neighbors have valiantly caught each of them, one at a time, taken them to be fixed, and brought them back.  They are, therefore, both a feral and a sterile family.

I rather love how from a distance it looks like he's hovering in the air at window height.

Anyway, yesterday I made a Tofu Scramble and decided to make some rice to go along with it.  Since the scramble had some Mexican-ish flavors (cumin, cilantro), I thought of that slightly tomatoey rice that appears so often in Mexican cuisine.  Oh yeah--it's often called "Spanish" rice.  Really?  Giving the English-speaking, Spanish-rice-eating people of the world the benefit of the doubt, I thought "maybe it originally comes from Spain."  But after googling it... yeah... that doesn't seem to be the case.

I used brown basmati rice, which maybe sounds inappropriate unless you the cooking method: sauteeing the rice, onions, and spices first and then adding liquid.  It's actually sort of like the way you might prepare basmati rice or a pilaf.  This cooking method, by the way, resulted in a really great texture: some parts of the rice got a bit browned and chewy.  Supposedly it also brings out more flavor.

Mexican Rice

about 1 TB olive oil
1/2 c brown basmati rice, rinsed
1/2 large yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 chilies, seeded and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
pinch salt
about 3 c vegetable stock (add more as needed)
1 TB tomato paste
diced carrots (I used about half of a large carrot)
1/4 c frozen peas, thawed
1/4 c frozen corn, thawed
juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
cilantro (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add rice and saute a minute or so, then add onion, garlic, chilies, spices, and salt.  Cook for 5 more minutes or so, until it's very fragrant.  Try not to burn it.
2. Add the stock and tomato paste, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice is cooked.  For brown basmati, this will be about 40+ minutes; it's shorter with some other types of rice. 
3. Near the end, stir in the carrots, peas, corn, and lime juice, and remove from heat.  Top with cilantro if desired.  Serves about 4.

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