Way back when I was in the 7th grade my parents brought home a rice cooker. Oh yes! This was back when, nobody dared to use anything other than the “Prestige” pressure cooker! Did I mention that they are one of the most forward thinking folks that I know of when it comes to anything: Food, gadgets, lifestyle – you name it and they would at least consider it! Some said: What’s the use of a rice cooker said?? We can already cook rice with the Prestige! Why do you need an electric cooker?? This was mostly some relatives who would never like it if someone did anything different!!! But my parents, well they are my parents! The rice cooker became an integral part of the kitchen 🙂
Getting back to the rice cooker, it was a National Panasonic with a pretty baby pink body and it churned out fluffy rice, steamed vegetables and even made roasted baby potatoes! Now, this gorgeous cooker came with a pretty recipe booklet which is how my mom made the roast potatoes. It also had a recipe for something called “Spanish Pulao”!! Yeah, you heard me! Me being me I was taken in with any kind of book or paper that spoke about food and how to cook it. And on top of it I was blown away by the exotic “Spanish” connection – I had only heard of the humble vegetable pulao which until then was an exotic recipe for a Madras kid! And basmati rice was something that made its appearances only on special occasions, read birthdays! So you can imagine how often one ate vegetable pulao…With Spanish dreams in my eyes, I bugged my mom to make this “Spanish” pualo – it looked so pretty in the picture; red in color with vegetables:) She finally gave in and now this dish started making its appearance often on our table and sometimes sans the basmati..
If you are wondering what Mexican rice has to with what I am going on about, it was because I found the process to make this the same as my exotic childhood “Spanish” Pulao. It had some additional spices but in essence it was pretty much the same. When I made this, I couldn’t help but recall those carefree days of playing around the kitchen and being able to eat anything that I pleased 🙂 And of course that pretty pink cooker which only retired recently to be replaced by a cream cooker with some floral pattern on it! Isn’t that what a wholesome cooking experience all about? Cooking a meal with love and also remembering those little things that make you happy….. ok, without further emotional outbursts, here is how I made my Mexican rice
What You need
- 1 Cup basmati rice – You can also use normal rice, in fact some of the non-home made recipes use the fat rice grains or maybe even red rice. But please ensure that you don’t cook it to be too soggy like some households do. The rice needs to be fluffy and separate
- 2 tomatoes – Pureed
- 1 finely chopped medium sized onion
- 2 finely chopped/mashed cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp of red chilli powder
- 1.5 tbsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp Mexican spice seasoning
- Coarsely mashed cooked red kidney beans / rajma – 1/4 cup
- 1 medium sized Capsicum / Green Bell Pepper – chopped in small cubes
- 1/4 c of carrot, corn if you like
- Finely chopped coriander / cilantro to garnish
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp Sugar optional
Getting it done
- Wash and cook the basmati rice like you would normally
- Add the olive oil to hot pan and saute the onions and garlic till the onions start turning transparent / caramelizing
- Add the remaining vegetables (coarsely mashed kidney beans included), salt and spices and saute well
- After about 5 minutes, throw in the tomato puree and cook well until the puree stars leaving the sides of the pan
Do a taste check for seasoning and spices – if the mixture is too tangy add the sugar and mix well. This usually reduces the tanginess Also if you can find some adobo or chipotle paprika go ahead and use it at this stage, subject to taste of course
- When the mixture is cooked well, it would look like vegetables coated with tomato paste. Switch off the stove and set the vegetable mix aside
- Fluff the rice with a fork, add it to the veggie mix and gently fold in until the rice is coated well with the veggie mix.
Do a taste check again – especially for salt. My suggestion is that you always add as little salt as possible during the initial stages of cooking. You can always add more later if required – It’s always easy to adjust a salt deficient dish, rather than adjusting a salty dish!
- Now add the freshly chopped cilantro and your dish is ready to serve with a sunny mexican / spanish Ola!
This rice was served as a part of an elaborate Sunday lunch with some quesadillas. You can also just serve this with some home made faux sour cream 🙂