My mother-in-law is Mexican-American. That makes Joseph a halfie (half white, half Mexican), but if you ask him, his upbringing was much more Mexican in culture than white.
One of the things he ate almost every day was Mexican rice.
When we first got married, I tried to duplicate his mom’s rice, but to no avail. For years, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Through some trial and error, I’ve discovered there are a few “secrets” to making the perfect Mexican rice. If you want truly authentic rice, you can’t skimp on any of these ingredients!
[A note here, I use oil in this recipe. Please read this post on what I think about oils.]
The right spices in the right amounts. (You’re in luck, I’m going to give you the secret blend.)
Fresh, and freshly minced, please. [Go here to see me give a step by step tutorial on how to mince garlic.]
#3 Bay Leaves.
I LOOVE these things. They give just a subltle touch of earthiness to each dish they grace, I love ‘em! But please, please discard the leaf before you serve the dish. Nothing quite as bad as accidentally chewing on one of these bad boys, it’s akin to finding a crisp autumn leaf in your soup or rice. Not pleasant.
#4 White Rice.
Sorry, brown rice only folks. Brown just doesn’t work in the same way with this recipe.
#5 Oil & a cast iron skillet.
Yes, oil. I have tried with all my might to find a way to replicate my mother-in-law’s authentic Mexican rice without the oil, and it just doesn’t work. I learned how to successfully minimize the amount of oil, but you can’t skip the oil if you want it to turn out right. If you are absolutely oil-free, try using the spice mix, water, and tomato sauce with some brown rice in a rice cooker. Not exactly the same, I’m warning ya, but it can work.
There’s something about the cast iron skillet that it tastes authentic. You can use a regular pan, but be forewarned, it’s not the same (I’ve tried it, and know!).
Here’s the recipe:
Authentic Vegan Mexican Rice
Serves 6-8, GF, SF
I happen to know my mother-in-law uses chicken boullion in her rice, so I omitted that (instead using nutritional yeast, salt, and sugar), and used my own mix of spices. It’s not exactly the same as my mother-in-law’s, but it’s good enough to keep my husband and kids happy.
The secret to making truly authentic tasting rice is in the frying process and in making sure you don’t lift the lid while it’s simmering. All of the other steps are important too, so don’t skip or cut corners, and you won’t be disappointed!
- 2 cups white rice
- 2-4 small/medium cloves garlic, minced
- 3 TBS. canola oil
- 1 TBS. onion powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. chili powder (non-spicy)
- 1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder (optional, adds a little spice)
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 2-3 bay leafs
- 1 TBS. nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar (or sucanat or evaporated cane juice)
- 3 3/4 c. water
- 1/4 c. tomato paste
First, pour oil in heavy cast iron skillet. Let the oil warm on medium-high heat. Pour rice in skillet. Add minced garlic.
With a wooden spatula, stir-fry for a few minutes until the rice becomes almost translucent, and is well coated.
Add spice mix.
And stir for an additional minute or so (by now your kitchen will smell amazing!).
Add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. When a boil is reached, cover with a tight lid and reduce to medium-low heat. Set the timer for 20 minutes and then forget about it! Once timer goes off, turn off stove, lift lid and your rice should look like this:
Discard bay leaves, stir and serve!