The versatility of rice side dishes

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay
For thousands of years, rice has been the most widely-consumed food worldwide. It is the most beloved grain, and there are plenty of reasons for it.

Its versatility, nutritious value and affordability make it possible to create countless dishes. In addition, its blank flavor allows for making salty or sweet dishes.

Most countries have preparations using rice. This noble grain always finds its way to the dinner table in some way or another. For example, in India, Biryani is a dish made with flavored rice, meat, onions, sultanas, and dry fruits. Pongal is sweet rice with milk, mung beans, cane sugar, and ground cashews.

In Spain, the famous Paella is the typical dish, saffron-flavored rice with meats, seafood, and vegetables. The preferred Spanish sweet rice preparation is the creamy rice pudding cooked with milk, sugar, and cinnamon.

The favorite options

Green salads, mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetables are quotidian side dishes in people’s meals. Rice is, without a doubt, the favorite accompaniment in every cuisine in the world.

The liking for rice responds to its multiple beneficial features. It comes in many shapes, colors, and textures for making delicious dishes each time you cook.

It works well with meat, such as beef, chicken, turkey, pork, or seafood preparations. It is also a powerful food for vegetarian and vegan regimes.

Besides, this grain is also straightforward to cook. It comes to the rescue when you prepare a quick but hearty meal. For those nights when you get home late or have some unexpected visits, a piece of meat or fried fish with rice as a side dish is always a good and delightful option.

Enjoying different rice side dishes

White rice is perhaps the most common rice side dish. Sometimes, it is the ideal accompaniment, but on other occasions, rice needs to be richer and more colorful.

You can turn plain white rice into an exquisite preparation by adding spices and herbs or cooking it with broth. A quick version is preparing seasoned white rice with parsley flakes and cooked using vegetable broth.

Another option is to incorporate garlic powder, butter, garlic cloves, paprika, thyme, and parsley when cooking rice in chicken broth.

Any of these white rice versions is succulent with roasted chicken, pork chops, or crispy zucchini fritters.

Cooking colorful rice

For a more vibrant and flavorsome rice side dish, incorporate more ingredients like different vegetables and seasonings.

It could be challenging to decide which vegetables, spices, or herbs to use. A good solution is to get ideas by searching for international recipes like Spanish rice, Mexican rice, or even Asian fried rice. Take a look at this recipe at

Don’t get more confused; Spanish rice is not the same as Mexican rice. They may look alike, but they are quite different.

  • Spanish rice is, as its name suggests, a Spanish rice-based dish cooked with saffron, which gives its typical yellowish-orange color. Its recipe includes chili powder, dried oregano, ground coriander, garlic powder, ground cumin, onion powder, salt, paprika, pepper, and red pepper flakes. It goes well with grilled fish or shrimp, baked chicken, and meatballs.
  • Mexican rice is a distinctive Mexican dish with reddish-orange colored rice. The color results from the tomato juice included when cooking. The preparation has ground cumin, chili powder, garlic, and onion. Mexican rice is the typical complement to mole, re-fried beans, roasted chicken, tacos, fried fish, or stuffed chilis.

You know the difference, try them at home.

Quick Spanish rice

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads.
  • ¼ cup of hot water.
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 cup of diced onion.
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
  • 1 cup of long-grain rice.
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth.
  • 1 diced orange bell pepper.
  • ½ teaspoon of coriander.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Ground black pepper to taste.
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish.



  1. Steep saffron threads in ¼ cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan, add olive oil and heat at medium-high temperature.
  3. Incorporate onions and garlic. Sauté until they get fragrant.
  4. Add rice and reduce heat.
  5. Stir for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour vegetable broth, orange bell pepper, coriander, salt, ground black pepper, and saffron mixture. Mix very well.
  7. Cook until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  8. Let it rest -covered- for 10 minutes.
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  10. Served with your preferred meat.

Easy Mexican rice

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
  • 1 cup of long-grain rice.
  • 2 cups of chicken broth.
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin.
  • Black pepper to taste.
  • Chopped cilantro.



  1. In a frying pan, add vegetable oil and heat.
  2. Incorporate minced garlic and rice.
  3. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt, cumin, and black pepper.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve with chopped cilantro at the top.


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