Gratinated Mexican rice

One of my favorite dishes growing up which mom would pull together for dinner parties was her rendition of Spanish rice.   Back in those days exotic ingredients were hard to come by and she made do with what was available.   I’ve had her recipe with me for 15 odd years and have never attempted to make it once but Saturday night was an opportunity to try it out.  We had invited some friends over for dinner and decided to go with a Mexican theme.   I have taken mom’s recipe as a base and made a few tweaks before rechristening it gratinated Mexican rice!   The dish was a hit with our guests and hope you enjoy making it.


What do I need to make it?

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked rice (long grain or even Basmati)
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper sliced thinly
  • 1 stick of celery sliced
  • 1 carrot chopped into tiny pieces
  • 4-5 baby corn chopped into bite size pieces
  • Handful of green beans trimmed and chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chipotle chili paste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

For the garnish

  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp pickled jalapenos
  • 2 sprigs of green onion chopped
  • 50 gms of mature cheddar cheese

How much will I make?

Serves 6

How do I make it?

First par boil the carrot, beans and baby corn.  Then heat a wok/kadai, add oil first before sauteing the garlic for a minute.   Add the sliced onions, green pepper and celery and cook till the onions start turning golden brown.   Add the chipotle paste, sprinkle cumin powder and chopped tomatoes and continue cooking till fat begins to leave the mixture.   Stir in the par boiled vegetables, adjust the seasoning and cook for another 5 minutes.   Switch off the heat and garnish with fresh chopped coriander.  Once the cooked rice has cooled stir in the masala and prepare the dish to be grilled.

Assembling the dish 

Transfer the mixed rice into a large rectangular oven proof dish.   Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the top.   Arrange the red pepper, tomato and jalapenos on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle the chopped spring onion and grill under a pre heated oven at 220 degrees Centigrade till the cheese melts, bubbles and turns golden brown.   Serve with a fresh tomato salsa or mango salsa as we did (1 large ripe mango cubed, 1 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped, juice of half a lime and salt/pepper to taste).

Creole/Mexican inspired casserole

Here’s a recipe for a scrumptious Creole/Mexican inspired casserole using one of our favourite cupboard essential spice – Scwartz Blackened Cajun seasoning.   Initially we were apprehensive with the heat intensity but were pleasantly surprised how mellowed the dish turned out.  We had it for lunch yesterday on its own but think the dish would work well with a bowl of rice.


What do I need to make it?

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 6 potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 8 mushrooms halved
  • 1 green pepper cut in large pieces
  • 1 stick of celery  chopped
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of frozen or canned corn
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans (pressure cook if not using tinned variety)
  • 1/2 cup black eyed peas (as above)
  • 8-10 baby onions peeled (we used a combination of baby white onions and small Indian red shallots)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp pickled green jalapenos
  • 3 tbsp pickled red jalapenos
  • 3 tbsp Schwartz Blackened Cajun seasoning
  • 2 gluten free chicken stock cubes
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli paste
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Big handful of fresh coriander chopped

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Wash and dry the chicken thigh fillets and marinade with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and Blackened Cajun seasoning.    Let the chicken marinade for as long as you can – we cooked it after an hour.  Heat a cast iron casserole and brown the chicken thighs.  Remove chicken and add remaining oil to saute the whole onions, celery, green pepper and garlic for a couple of minutes.   Add the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes before adding  the jalapenos and chipotle paste.    Give it a good stir before adding the stock cubes, 600 ml of water, the corn, kidney beans, black eyed peas, chicken thighs and half the chopped coriander.  Cover the casserole and cook in pre-heated oven at 190 degree for an hour.   Remove and check that most of the water has evaporated before garnishing with the remaining coriander.   Serve hot with a nice crusty bread of choice or a bowl of rice.

NB:  The Blackened Cajun seasoning has salt so you shouldn’t have to add any more – if you are using any other brand check the ingredient list.