Why is Rice such a Popular Staple Food in Mexican Cuisine?

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Mexico’s culinary tradition comes from a mixture of pre-Hispanic cultures and Spanish influences. Although many dishes are similar to typical Spanish ones, they combine it with tomatoes, chili, beans, and avocado making these dishes a real feast for the palate.

Rice has always belonged to the daily diet of people. This food, being such a nutritious and versatile ingredient, has the necessary characteristics to prepare an infinite variety of meals, and in Mexican cuisine, it is no exception.

We brought to you a recipe to prepare Mexican-style rice au gratin: a dish that will guarantee you balanced nutrition and a delicious way to have lunch.

Mexican Rice-based Meals: A Menu with Regional Flavors

As stated above, rice is part of many typical dishes of Mexican cuisine. Its flavors are widely varied, although you’ll never miss the touch of chili in them. Some Mexican dishes with rice are:

  • Arroz a la mexicana: also called red rice, is a dish that includes potatoes, peas, corn, jalapeño, or serrano peppers and comes seasoned in ground tomato. It is usually consumed all over the country.
  • Arroz a la tumbada: it is a broth dish that includes rice with shrimp, octopus, or prawns, and It is typical in Veracruz.
  • Morisqueta: it is a rice broth cooked in water accompanied with beans, pork, chorizo, and tomatoes. It serves as an accompaniment to soups or broths and is typical in Colima, Michoacán and the coasts of Jalisco.

Before reading this recipe, perhaps you would want to learn how to make other rice-based dishes: https://mahatmarice.com/recipes/traditional-mexican-rice/

Mexican style rice au gratin


  • 2 cups of organic round brown rice.
  • 4 cups of water.
  • 2 cups of sweet corn.
  • 2 cups of cooked black beans.
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped.
  • 6 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 finely chopped large red bell pepper.
  • 1 finely chopped large green bell pepper.
  • 4 tbsp. of homemade tomato sauce.
  • 5 tsp. of cumin powder.
  • 4 tsp. of dried coriander powder.
  • 1 ½ tsp. of garlic powder.
  • 1 ½ tsp. of ginger powder.
  • Juice of ½ lime.
  • ½ tsp. of hot chili powder.
  • 2 tsp. of unrefined sea salt.
  • 10 oz shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • 4 oz grated Emmenthal cheese (optional).
  • 2.7 oz grated parmesan cheese.
  • Chopped fresh coriander to sprinkle on top (optional).

How to prepare:

  1. In a bowl, soak the black beans in water overnight to bulk them up.
  2. In a pot, cook the rice until it is soft and puffy enough or to your liking and cook the black beans until soft.
  3. While the beans are cooking, put a large skillet with olive oil and salt over medium heat and add the finely chopped onion. Sauté until the onion gets translucent. Then, add the peppers and fry.
  4. Add the sweet corn, beans, cumin, coriander, ginger, chili, and tomato sauce into the skillet. Mix well and continue heating for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour the cooked rice and lime juice into the skillet, mix and add more salt to adjust the flavor.
  6. Place the mixture in a baking dish and add the mozzarella cheese, the Emmental cheese, and finally the parmesan cheese on top.
  7. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. When the cheese is golden brown and melted, place it outside the oven and let cool for 1 minute.
  8. Serve garnished with some chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, and avocado on top.


Brown rice needs a longer cooking time than white rice. And because the husk hasn’t been removed, make sure that this rice is as organic as possible, as it may have traces of pesticides in it. Washing it thoroughly before cooking is highly recommended.

When the beans are cooked along with the rice and vegetables, you do not need to add salt if you have already done it when cooking the rice and beans separately.

A Highly Nutritious Meal

This dish, in addition to its delicious taste, will bring to your body many nutrients you need every day.

Brown rice is a food rich in vitamins B1 and E, present in its husk.

On the side of black beans, they provide a high content of fiber and vegetable proteins. It is low in fat, has group B vitamins, such as folic acid, it is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and has antioxidant properties.

Red and green peppers provide vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and both are low-calories.

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