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Sometimes side dishes are meant to stand out on their own. This Mexican brown rice dish is a versatile side for many meals. It works as the bed for a serving of your favourite protein mixed in. I personally recommend it with a hearty meat dish and a coleslaw or beet salad. Chorizo, Italian, or Polish sausages work well here.
Alternatively, you can try making fried tofu steaks. Ideally, make marinated tofu that is sweet, savory, and perhaps a bit spicy. It will serve as a great contrast to the fresh, tangy, vegetal, and salty flavours of the rice.
Like many of my recipes, this one started as an accident. I had too much brown rice from making an Indian chickpea curry dish earlier. (Turns out that curry suited me better with white rice, anyway). I scrambled across Google to find a way to justify the $8 I had spent on a little bag of Basmati brown wild rice. I hadn’t used most of it and I know it would inevitably sit on a dark shelf for the next year.
It was meant to be…
Mexican rice came on my radar and I knew I had to do it. The first time I tried this recipe, I had recently made scratch tacos at home for Cinco de Mayo. This included a very healthy amount of pico de gallo and avocado corn salad, both of which had lime and cilantro, two ingredients that I LOVE. I would make a cilantro perfume if I could.
Plus, the vegetable broth intrigued me. I read that it was a must for this recipe, and all the “authentic” Mexican recipes do this. Who am I to say no? (Read more about my thoughts on food and authenticity here).
My family keeps these dried bullion cubes so we can make any broth in a pinch. It’s not as fresh as making your own, but it’s easily on par with store-bought, ready-made broth, and it’s already salted and seasoned. The cubes save a lot of space that a pot or carton of broth might take up in the fridge. This is a great asset when you live in a house with people that are constantly experimenting with food and drink recipes (i.e. me!).
Cooking Mexican brown rice
Cook the rice as if it were a risotto: a slow boil to absorb all the liquid and flavour of the broth. The grainy, brown rice becomes quite dense, and makes for a hearty plate.
After cooking, we’re going to add a lime topping. This is the kicker! By mixing in lime, olive oil, cumin, salt, oregano, and white pepper, we are adding a very rich, juicy, and tangy kind of edge to the rice. The rice will absorb most of this topping; it’s a little more than a drizzle, but not really a sauce. For added punch, get a bit of lime zest by grating the outside of the lime skin over your lime juice. You only need a little to add a lot more
Finally, we’re going to add some fresh green onion and cilantro at the end. The result is truly revitalizing aroma, rice that is rich and moist, and an excellent side to pair with flavourful mains and fresh salads.
I hope you’re sufficiently hyped up for this now, because I have a blast every time I have it. Now, let’s make the dish!
Mexican Brown Rice
- Measuring cups
- Cutting board and knives
- Large pot for rice
- Small bowl for topping
- Citrus juicer (to get the most out of your limes)
For the rice
- 2 cups brown rice add some black wild rice as well if you want
- 1 litre vegetable broth or 1 litre of water and a cube of bullion/dried vegetable stock
- 2-3 stalks green onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- (Optional) extra lime wedges to squeeze and garnish
For the lime topping
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 & 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 & 1/2 tsp oregano dried is easier to work with, you can also use fresh oregano for extra flavour if it is finely chopped
- 60 ml (4 tbsp) lime juice about 2 whole limes
- 20 ml (1 & 1/3 tbsp) olive oil
- (Optional) a sprinkle of lime zest grate the outside of the lime
- Set your pot of vegetable broth or water with bullion cubes to boil.
- Add rice to pot and turn it down to low boil for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking for consistency around the 25 minute mark. Like a risotto, the rice should absorb the broth and there should be little if any liquid left in the pot.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare your spices, lime juice, and olive oil. Juice fresh limes if possible. Place all of these in a bowl and whisk them together thoroughly for 1 minute.
- Wash, dry off, and chop green onion, jalapeno, and cilantro, removing stems from cilantro.
- When the rice is done, remove the pot from heat. You can leave it in the pot if you are serving immediately.
- Add green onion and dump the lime topping onto the hot rice and stir it all around.
- Add some fresh cilantro at the end and stir again. If you are planning to have leftovers then save some cilantro until you serve the rice again next time.
Thanks for stopping by! If you like this kind of article, why not check out some of my other food recipes as well?
By, the way…