Tasty rice and beans in Salsa
When we move to a new country there are many unwritten rules and language usage that confuse us. Tim Hortons is a famous coffee and bake shop chain in Canada. I took quite a bit of time to learn ordering a double, double in Tim Hortons. Yes, using it with ease literally identifies you as a Canadian. Do you wonder what the heck a double, double is? It is just coffee with 2 packets of sugar and 2 pods of cream. It is kind of our code language…how cool is that?!
Crossing the border into USA has its own challenges. After getting our US visa, we decided to make frequent visits to Seattle from Vancouver, basically, for the shopping experience. On one of those visits, I was at a highway rest area, went to a food place and ordered 2 sandwiches. I paid cash to the guy at the counter. He took the cash and asked, handing me the sandwiches. ‘Do you have a nickel?’
“How much is a nickle?” I asked him totally confused looking at the coins in my hand.
I looked like an imbecile with my completely puzzled expression. He seriously thought I was joking! Hmm…what is the use of all my education if I did not know to pick a nickel out of the coins? I never knew America used such strange names for their coins. I have not come across it in my entire eventful life! Why can’t they use simple terms like cents or pennies without any fuss? I turned to look for my husband who had dropped me and gone to park the car but he had not returned. Luckily there was no one behind me waiting for food.
“How much is a nickel? How much should I give you?” I asked again in a murmur.
“100 dollars…” he looked at me with a trace of a smile.
I knew he was mocking but I stood there stupidly not knowing the value of a nickel. I held out all the coins in my hand and asked him to pick. I could sense exactly what he thought while he suppressed his laugh.
After this experience, I was dead scared to do any money transaction using coins for a while. Soon I found out a nickel is 5 cents and announced it to all newcomer friends intending to cross the border. Now, after many years, when I look back I realize that this incident has blown a big hole in my self esteem.
It is same with Canada, the first time I heard loonie (1 dollar coin) and toonie ($2) my jaw dropped not knowing they were nicknames. When we go to a country like Mexico with an unfamiliar language, it goes from awkward to miserable. During my last trip, I managed walking around Cozumel saying “gracias” to everything with a sheepish grin and not using any Peso. The food I had was amazing though, especially the Mexican rice and their serving portion was humungous.
On long trips, when I crave rice my go to place is surely a Mexican eatery. I thank them for all their wonderful veggies and tacos. It gives me the satisfaction of eating rice, tomato and beans which I call, ‘sheer bliss’. The food is closest to home taste and the starchy rice can calm me down and get me through the rest of the day. I can go without rice for a maximum of 4 days, after that I become snappish, disturbed and disoriented like a bat with nausea!
This is my quick Mexican rice. I can relate it to the taste of Indian tomato rice but this has no strong spices, only the mild heat of jalapeno peppers in Salsa. A combination of salsa and vegetable broth makes this easy recipe remarkable! This tomato flavoured rice can be a simple side dish for tacos, fajitas, burritos or other Tex-Mex combinations.
Ingredients for Mexican rice
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 cup medium grain rice
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup store bought salsa
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 cup canned red beans rinsed and drained
- salt to taste
- Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot and stir in onion until tender.
- Wash and drain rice and add to the pan stirring often.
- When rice is coated with oil and slightly toasted season with cumin powder.
- Add vegetable broth, salsa, salt and mix well.
- Cook on low heat covering with a lid.
- When water is reduced, add beans and mix well.
- Cook until liquid is completely absorbed. (Takes 20-25 minutes on stove top.)
- Turn off heat and gently mix the rice and remove it from the heat.
Serve this warm with chopped cilantro and onion slices. You can also add a choice of garnishes like sour cream, avocado slices or corn chips. This is a delicately flavoured rice and a grating of cheese on top makes it delicious.
I used a medium grain rice as it absorbs water and yields a tender, starchy Mexican rice. The slightly creamy cooked rice is ideal for this dish as the sauce readily clings to the surface. Adding 1 or 2 two jalapeno peppers will improve its flavour with a mild heat.
Store bought salsa is not always on hand and it is way too expensive. So, there is a quick remedy. Whip up some homemade Salsa as the ingredients are easily available. I find that it improved the taste of my Mexican rice that I am enjoying tonight. My next post is surely on that fresh homemade Salsa.