In Spanish, arroz = rice, rojo = red.
Rice first came to Mexico from the Phillipines in the 1500s through the Spanish galleon (trade ship) “Nao de China” (Ship from China), anchored in Acapulco.
Since then, rice has been extensively cultivated in the Veracruz region, and is a staple on the Mexican menu.
We set about making Arroz Rojo with the biggest onion we had ever seen, brought to us by our Mexican friend Susanna. She got it from her friend who works on an onion farm. She says we ain’t seen nothing yet. She’s got bigger ones in her house.
In Susanna’s village in Guadalajara, for special occasions, rice is cooked pilaf style, either as Arroz Rojo (in a red tomatoey sauce), or as Arroz Verde (green, with fresh chillies like poblanos.)
A common flavouring for red rice in her home is Mexican chili powder – a mixture of ancho and cayenne chili powder with cumin, dried oregano and garlic powder. (Recipe HERE). Smoky Spanish paprika is a decent substitute for ancho chilli powder.
Arroz Rojo a la Mexicana (Mexican Red Tomato Rice)
(adapted from Rick Bayless’s recipe @ gourmetsleuth.com)
1.5 cups of medium-grained rice
a couple of times and spread the grains out on a towel to dry for a couple of hours.
one 15 ounce can of whole tomatoes.
Reserve the liquid. Blend the whole tomatoes to a puree with
1 cup white onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, halved
(If using crushed or diced canned tomatoes, use 1 cup)
3 medium or 4 small whole tomatoes.
Broil or grill them until the skins are charred.
Peel, chop finely and keep aside.
Fry the rice grains in
1.5 tablespoons light olive oil or vegetable oil (lard is usually used)
for 4-5 mts until toasty on a medium flame.
Add tomato-onion-garlic puree and
1 cup carrots chopped into 1/4 inch cubes.
Cook for 3 minutes until dry-looking.
vegetable broth/water plus reserved tomato liquid – 1.75 cups total (traditionally chicken broth is used)
3 slit fresh serrano or jalapeno chillies,
1/2 tsp Mexican chilli powder
**or a mixture of paprika, cayenne, cumin, garlic powders and dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
salt to taste
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook on medium-low for 15 minutes. Check after 10 to see if you need more liquid.
Add the chopped roasted tomatoes and
3/4 cup frozen peas.
Cover and cook for 5 more minutes or unil the rice is cooked. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork, and serve.
Arroz Rojo is traditionally served with chicken or beef in a mole or a stew.
This is our entry for Dhivya’s A.W.E.D @ Culinary Bazaar.