Rice is the perfect food to have in your kitchen. It can be the main meal you enjoy or a yummy side dish.
You can also add rice to many dishes, both sweet and savoury, because it works well to thicken food.
Is rice healthy?
Rice is a good source of carbohydrates to give your body enough fuel so you feel satisfied and full of energy. Some rice, such as brown rice, also contains nutrients such as selenium, B-vitamins, and magnesium.
With that in mind, let’s explore delicious rice dishes from around the world. Draw some inspiration from them before the next time you’re in the mood for rice as they’ll change the way you see this humble food forever.
Top 8 Rice Dishes To Try At Least Once
Nasi Goreng – Indonesia
This is a simple, tasty rice dish that’s made with stir-fried rice, vegetables, and various meats, such as chicken or prawns. Sweet soy sauce and other ingredients, such as tamarind, chili, garlic, and shallots, are then added to it.
You can also place a fried egg on top of this rice dish if you want it to be even more indulgent. Nasi goreng is usually served with fresh cucumber and tomato.
A technique that makes nasi goreng delicious and unique compared to other rice dishes is that its sauce is made with kepac manis. This is a soy sauce that’s sweet and caramelizes the rice during the cooking process.
Nasi goreng, which is translated to mean “fried rice,” is considered to be a staple in local Indonesian cuisine, and it’s found all over the country, such as in street food and high-end restaurants.
This traditional rice dish is said to be one of Indonesia’s national dish but it’s also popular in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. It originated in Indonesia in the 10th century as a result of Chinese influence.
Chinese immigrants moved to Indonesia and brought the novelty of fried rice with them. Trade between the two countries began, and Indoneisnas started to make fried rice, with Nasi goreng soon following suit.
Risotto – Italy
When you think of delicious food Italy has brought the world, you’ll probably think of pasta and pizza. But risotto, a delicious rice dish that is said to hail from northern Italy, is also worth a mention.
This yellow-rice dish is cooked to a creamy consistency, and its broth can be made with vegetables, meat, or fish.
Many risottos will contain ingredients such as white wine, Parmesan cheese, onions, and butter. However, to make a classic Italian risotto, you need to do so with Arborio, which is a large superfine rice that better absorbs the liquid in the risotto dish.
Interestingly, risotto goes back to the 14th century, when Arabs brought rice to Spain and Sicily. Italy was chosen as a good place to grow short-grain rice because of its humidity and flat land, and this caused rice to become part of Italian culture and food.
In 1574, legend has it that an apprentice called Valerius was hired to make a stained-glass window for the Cathedral Duomo di Milano. People were teasing him while he worked because he was using saffron to create the beautiful colors in his work. Valerius became angry, so he decided to put saffron in the rice that was going to be served at his master’s wedding.
This was supposed to be an act of revenge, but the colorful rice was such a hit that it led to the creation of risotto!
Champorado – Philippines
This rice dish is unique in the way that it flips the idea of rice being savory. It is a chocolate rice porridge. How it’s made is that sticky rice is boiled with cocoa powder, although traditionally Champorado was made with pure cocoa blocks known as tableya.
Champorado is a beloved food in the Philippines but it can also be served with dried fish chips or made with coffee powder instead of cocoa to put another spin on it if you don’t want a sweet treat. Because it’s a porridge, champorado can be enjoyed for breakfast. If you do want it to be very sweet, a variation of Champorado includes condensed milk.
Champorado dates all the way back to the galleon trade that occurred between the Philippines and Mexico. Traders from Mexico brought over their knowledge of champurrado, which is a chocolate drink served with churros. Over time, rice was added to the drink, and that’s how champorado came about.
Paella – Spain
While paella is a favorite rice dish all over the world, it actually hails from Valencia in Spain. Paella was considered to be a symbol of the region’s identity, and traditionally this dish consisted of white rice cooked with olive oil, green beans, and meat. Chicken or rabbit was the preferred meat, and sometimes snails were also included. The dish was seasoned with rosemary and saffron.
Paella used to be considered farmer food and was cooked by workers on the farm over a wood fire for lunch. It contained rice and any other ingredients that could be found in the countryside, such as onions, beans, and tomatoes.
Today, there are many types of paella, such as those including seafood or vegetables – you can find around 200 dishes from the Valencia region, other parts of Spain, and the rest of the world!
The word “paella” actually refers to the cooking pan used to make the rice dish. Traditionally on farms, people used to eat this rice dish from the same pan with wooden spoons. The paella pan is round with a flat bottom and it’s designed like this so that the rice has the most contact with the bottom of the pan in order to get cooked evenly.
Dirty Rice – Southern Louisiana
Dirty rice is a rice dish that contains rice, chicken liver and gizzard, celery, bell peppers, and onions. The reason why it’s called dirty rice is because of how the rice becomes stained with the liver and broth so it isn’t pale anymore.
Interestingly, this rice dish hails from Southern Louisiana in the U.S. It’s a traditional Cajun meal that dates back to slave cooking.
Since slaves at the time were given the undesirable parts of the chicken to eat, they’d combine these ingredients with rice, which was a staple food. Another source confirms this, stating that during the plantation days, poor people didn’t have many resources with which to feed their families, so they’d use whatever ingredients they could find.
Dirty Rice has changed over the years, and you can find many variations of this rice dish. In fact, in Southern Louisiana it’s not uncommon for many families to feel that their recipe is the authentic one – even though many others will say the same thing.
While dirty rice used to be enjoyed as a main dish, nowadays it can be served as an accompaniment to dishes such as jambalaya (meat and vegetables mixed with rice) or it can be eaten with a salad.
Nasi lemak – Malaysia
This is a traditional Malaysian rice dish. “Nasi” means rice, while “lemak” is a word for tasty or rich. This dish is made with jasmine or long-grain rice that’s boiled in water with coconut milk, spices, and pandan leaves that have a vanilla aroma.
This dish is famous because it combines a variety of delicious ingredients. It’s traditionally served with peanuts, boiled eggs, anchovies, and cucumbers. What makes this rice dish so special is that it’s creamy yet savoury. Its coconut flavor gets infused into the rice, therefore setting it apart from many other rice dishes out there.
Nasi Lemak was originally a breakfast dish but it became a national dish in the country which can be enjoyed at any time of the day. However, it must be eaten hot and wrapped in banana leaves. Interestingly, it was created as a way to make use of all the ingredients available in the country.
In the 1980s, this dish became a popular one sold by a variety of street vendors. It’s now a staple that you can enjoy when visiting Malaysia – and you won’t get enough of it.
Bibimbap – Korea
This is a popular dish in Korean cuisine and it’s made with glutinous rice, shiitake mushrooms, vegetables, stripped beef, red pepper paste, and egg. It’s sometimes called Dolsot Bibimbap, which refers to how it can be cooked in a hot stone pot known as a Dolsot.
There are many reasons why bibimbap is so popular in the country, and one of them is because it can be made with a variety of readily available ingredients. It’s also delicious!
There are various theories about how bibimbap came about. One theory cites it originated during jesa rituals which involve ancestral food offerings made up of vegetables, mixed rice, and side dishes.
Other theories say that it was a New Year ritual which made use of leftovers and rice. This theory makes sense as many people will make a bibimbap meal when they have leftovers to use instead of throwing them away.
Interestingly, Bibimbap was first noted by a scholar during the 1500s and 1600s, during the Joseon Dynasty.
Jollof Rice – Africa
It’s not 100-percent known exactly where jollof rice comes from, but it definitely has its roots in Africa. Historically, jollof rice can be traced back to the 1300s in the Wolof Empire, which was a West African state that ruled parts of our modern-day Senegal during the years 1350 to 1549. Rice was thriving in the region, so jollof rice included rice, veggies, fish, and shellfish.
Jollof rice is a one-pot dish that’s popular in Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, and Liberia. It’s a festive food enjoyed in West Africa, although it is becoming popular in East Africa, too.
Because of how it’s enjoyed in so many different countries, it has many variations. For example, jollof rice is made with Thai or basmati rice in Ghana, and contains clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg to provide warm spiciness. Here, you’ll also find that chicken or beef stock is included. By comparison, in Nigeria the dish contains parboiled long-grain rice, red bell peppers, pureed tomatoes, onions, and habaneros (a hot chili).
Generally, though, jollof rice is a classic rice dish that’s cooked in a tomato-based broth. It’s spicy, fragrant, and has an orange-red color. It gets cooked in one pan and uses lots of vegetables.
Is rice a grain or seed?
Rice is a seed that’s cultivated from grain plants all over the world.
What country eats the most rice?
China is the country whose people eat the most rice. Approximately 149 million metric tons of rice were consumed in 2020 to 2021.
Rice doesn’t have to be boring. It can form part of a delicious meal cooked with meats or vegetables, or it can be used as an ingredient in a yummy dessert.
Rice is a staple of many creative and tasty dishes, as we’ve seen in this guide, so try one of them the next time you’re in the mood for a healthy, delicious dinner you won’t forget.
Nicole Dowdy is an avid foodie and successful restaurateur. [He/she] has dedicated nearly all her life to learning popular recipes from across the globe as well as developing new ones. Using Food Migration, Nicole Dowdy shares the very best recipes for just about every home cook looking to try something new in the kitchen. Pro chefs can also learn a few tricks on the website.Looking to improve your kitchen? You will also find awesome and high-quality kitchen utensil recommendations as well as buying guides on this website.