17 May 2012

Recipe a Day: Mexican Red Rice and Refried Beans

It seems that Americans living in exotic-to-them places often miss Mexican food.  That always seems weird to me because Mexican food is easy to make and it doesn't always require ingredients that are really strange.  Sure, you might not get the right type of chiles, but so what?  And black beans might be preferred, but you can substitute other beans.  And salsa?  It's better when you make it yourself anyway. 

This red rice isn't the easiest one out there, but it is so flavorful that it's worth the extra effort.  And the beans couldn't be easier.  It's nice to have a blender for this, but I made this in Tokmok too where I didn't have any appliances at all besides the stove and fridge.  I really wish I'd done photo recipes in Tokmok because those would have been interesting and fun memories.

Anyway, here's what you'll need for the rice:

  • 2 cups rice- I used parboiled Pakistani rice and I think it's better than any other rice I've tried with this, but you can also use American long grain or try a medium-grain rice
  • 2-3 large tomatoes
  • One onion, quartered
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • One chopped carrot or a handful of frozen or fresh corn or chopped green garlic, or some other vegetable you like, optional
And the beans:
  • 2-4 tablespoons oil
  • One large onion, chopped
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked beans- I used red beans in the photos (pinto beans are traditional, but I've used all sorts of colors and types here- just try something and it'll probably work)
  • Spices- I like cumin, but one son doesn't, so I usually use coriander and cayenne
  • Salt to taste
Wash your rice

Then let it sit in the strainer while you get the vegetables ready.  You want to get the water out because you'll be frying the rice later.

This is the fun part.  You're going to blacken the tomatoes, onion, and garlic.  The flame is really on here, but you can't see it.  You can do this more easily on a grill, or in a dry skillet, but I like to do it this way too. 

So they look like this.  If you have a convenient teenager around, you might get some help.  Mine was disappointed he wasn't home when I was cooking.

Here are the tomatoes.  Continue with the onions and garlic.  The onions take the longest, so don't despair if they're taking forever to blacken.

You can see I didn't get the onions very black, but this pile of vegetables is black enough.

Throw them in the blender (you can chop them a bit first if you like).

And blend.  Add a little water if you need to so there are two cups of puree. If you don't have a blender you can use a mortar and pestle, and if you don't have that either, you can chop the vegetables well and mash up the tomatoes and call it good.  That tastes delicious too.

Heat the oil and add the rice.  Cook for about 10 minutes till it's getting golden.  You don't have to stir the entire time, but pay attention to it.

Meanwhile, chop your carrots.

And get your broth or water boiling.  Keep it simmering while you're waiting to add it to the rice.

After the rice is golden, add the tomato puree.

And stir while it comes to a boil.

Add the simmering water or stock and stir again while it comes to a boil.

Boil for about 5 minutes.

Then add the optional vegetables and the salt and stir.

Cover and simmer (don't turn the heat all the way down- something like medium low is good) for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it sit for another 15-20 minutes.  Don't take the lid off.

You can take the lid off after the 15-20 minutes are up.  Here's what it looks like when it's done.

Stir and serve.  It looks a lot like plov which always confuses people here.  Doesn't taste like it though.

While your rice is cooking, you can make your refried beans.  Heat the oil and add the onions and garlic and cook till the onions are soft.

Add the beans, salt, and spices and cook till everything is nice and hot.  Then dump it all in the blender with about 1/4-1/2 cup potable water and blend.  If you don't have a blender, use a potato masher.  That works great.  I didn't get a photo of the final product, but it's not hard to imagine refried beans.

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