Food & Drinks

The world’s best rice dishes that will make your mouth water

jambalaya on of the typical creole rice dishes of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Rice is one of the most consumed foods in the world. This cereal was so important throughout history that it even served as a payment currency in the days of feudal Japan (the koku was the amount needed to feed a person for a year). Another example is the rice throwing at weddings, a tradition that began in China where rice is a symbol of prosperity and abundance.

Its popularity can be explained by the diversity of varieties (there are more than 40 thousand varieties of rice) and methods of preparation that can let it loose, brothy or glutinous. Also, rice is extremely versatile, being served as a classic accompaniment, a delicious main dish and even as a dessert.

Check out next some of the most famous rice dishes in the world:

Galinhada

Galinhada is one of the most famous comfort foods in Brazil. The main ingredients of this perfect Sunday lunch are rice, chicken and spices (parsley, green onions, turmeric, cumin) with several variations depending on the region.

The most important thing about the Galinhada recipe is to cook the rice together with the chicken. It’s tasty and easy to make, after all, you’ll only need to wash one pan.

Galinhada Recipe - How to make the best Brazilian chicken and rice dish
Galinhada | © Food’n Road

Biryani

Biryani is one of the most traditional dishes in India and its origin is still a cause for debate. Traditional Biryani is made with Basmati rice, meats (most commonly chicken or lamb) and various spices such as black pepper, cumin, saffron, cardamom, mint, ginger, nutmeg and bay leaf.

Other ingredients that can be used, depending on the region, are potatoes, nuts, dried fruits, rose water and yoghurt. Biryani is widely consumed in celebrations such as weddings and on Eid (the last day of Ramadan) and has two traditional methods of preparation known as Kacchi and Pakki.

Chef’s Insights: The day we learned how to cook Biryani in Hyderabad

biryani rice with mutton, one of the most famous rice dishes in the world
Biryani | © Manu_Bahuguna

Pilaf

Originating in the Middle East, the name Pilaf refers to the technique of cooking rice (or other cereals such as quinoa and amaranth) that leaves the grains very loose. In the recipe, the rice is sautéed with oil or ghee butter, onion and various spices (eg: cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, star anise) before the addition of vegetable broth, which makes the rice aromatic and tasty.

wood plate with pilaf rice dish
Pilaf | © vm2002

Paella

Paella is undoubtedly one of the most popular rice dishes in the West. Although it is very common to find paellas made with seafood, these ingredients are not part of the original recipe (Paella Valenciana), which uses bomba type rice, chicken, rabbit meat, snails, tomatoes, saffron, rosemary, garrofón (a type of large white bean) and ferradura (similar to green bean). Paella with seafood is known as Paella Marinera.

The name paella originally refers to the pan used to make the recipe, characterized by being large, round and with handles.

the authentic paella valenciana
Paella | © Food’n Road

Arroz Al Horno

In addition to the traditional Paella, the city of Valencia has Arroz Al Horno as another typical dish. In this recipe, the rice is first sautéed, then chicken broth is added and the dish is finished in the oven in a clay pot or ceramic dish, preferably round.

Arroz al Horno is made with bomba type rice (short grain), pork (ribs and bacon), Spanish blood sausage, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, saffron, paprika and chickpeas.

arroz al horno served on a round tray typical rice dish of Valencia Spain
Arroz Al Horno | © Mediterranean

Arroz de Polvo

Arroz de Polvo (octopus rice) is a very popular rice dish in Portuguese cuisine. The dish is made with Carolino-type rice (long grain), widely used in the “malandrinhos” type of preparations, a Portuguese term for the more brothy dishes.

In this recipe, rice is cooked in the same broth used to cook the octopus, which guarantees more flavour. It also takes olive oil, tomatoes, white wine, as well as various spices such as onions, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper and coriander.

Read more: The main typical dishes of Portugal

plate with octopus rice, a very popular portuguese food
Arroz de Polvo | © xinovap

Nasi Lemak

Among so many traditional Malaysian dishes, Nasi Lemak is considered the symbolic dish of Malay cuisine. Nasi means rice and Lemak can be translated as rich or tasty. Rice (jasmine or other long-grain) is boiled in water with coconut milk, pandan leaves (a leaf that has a similar aroma to vanilla) and spices.

Rice is traditionally served with Sambal (hot sauce with shrimp paste), fried dry anchovies, cucumber and toasted peanuts. As a protein supplement, you can add egg, tofu or fried chicken.

Nasi Lemak, typical malaysian food national dish with rice, eggs, sambal, anchovies and fried chicken
Nasi Lemak | © Food’n Road

Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng is one of the most popular foods in Indonesia and means fried rice. The rice is mixed with the sweet Kecap Manis sauce, made with soy sauce, sugar, pepper, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and tamarind juice. The dish can be added with vegetables, meat and served with fried egg and krupuk (a kind of chips made with starch).

nasi goreng, fried rice with tomato and chilli sauce on the side
Nasi Goreng | © Food’n Road

Sushi

Icon of Japanese cuisine, sushi is considered to be any preparation made with short-grain cooked rice (this type of rice has a high starch content, which makes the grains stick together), vinegar, sugar and salt.

There are several types of sushi, such as Makizushi (one of the most famous, where the dumpling is wrapped in a sheet of dried seaweed and can have different fillings such as vegetables, omelette and raw fish) and Nigiri (dumpling covered by a slice that can be raw fish, octopus, shrimp or egg).

different types of japanese rice sushi on a wood board
Sushi | © Ridofranz

Bibimbap

Bibimbap is one of the best known dishes in Korean cuisine and considered the national dish of the country.

This delicacy is made with glutinous rice, a variety of vegetables (eg: spinach, bean sprouts, carrots, zucchini), shiitake mushroom, stripped meat (usually beef), egg and a red pepper paste, the gochujang. When served in a very hot stone pot (called Dolsot) it is called Dolsot Bibimbap.

a bowl with bibimbap a famous korean rice dish with vegetables, egg, rice and other ingredients
Bibimbap | © bhofack2

Pad Kra Pao

In Thai, Pad means fried and Kra Pao is the name given to the herb known as Thai Basil, one of the main ingredients of this recipe. The rice used is jasmine (long grain), fried with garlic, thai basil, bird’s eye pepper (also known as Thai pepper) and protein of choice (chicken, pork, beef, seafood or tofu). It is usually served with a fried egg on top.

Read more: Become a Thai food expert with these 30 typical Thai dishes

pad kra pao rice dish very popular in Thailand
Pad Kra Pao | © sevendeman

Risotto

This list would not be complete if we did not mention Risotto, a dish that was invented in the Italian region of Lombardy. To make risotto, the rice is sautéed and then slowly cooked in broth (from vegetables or meat). There are numerous risotto recipes, most of which, like many Italian dishes, harmonize very well with wines.

One of the main characteristics of the risotto is its creaminess, so you should use rice that releases starch when cooked, such as arbóreo, carnaroli and vialole nano, which are the most used types.

Have you ever thought about taking an interactive online cooking class? Learn a delicious risotto recipe with radicchio cream and parmesan cheese from an Italian chef.

an italian risotto dish with mushroom
Risoto | © vm2002

Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a rice dish originating in the city of New Orleans (USA). Made with rice and traditionally chicken or pork meat, smoked sausage and seafood like shrimp. There are two versions of Jambalaya, Cajun and Creole. The difference between the two is in the way of preparation and also in some of the ingredients, such as the use of tomatoes in the Creole version.

By the way, Cajun seasoning is considered one of the greatest seasonings in the world and can be used in many other recipes.

jambalaya rice typical creole rice dish of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Jambalaya | © rudisil

Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice is a rice dish that is very popular in West African countries, mainly in Nigeria and Ghana, who tirelessly dispute who makes the best Jollof, even though they were not the creators of the highly regarded dish, origin given to the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia.

Well, story aside, in the Jollof recipe, rice is cooked in a broth made with tomatoes, peppers, onions and red pepper (it is common to use Scotch Bonnet pepper, which brings an intensity close to Habanero pepper), all beaten. Subsequently, various spices are added to it such as curry powder, bay leaf and thyme. A delicious rice dish with striking and spicy flavours.

jollof rice with chicken a typical West African rice dish
Jollof Rice| © bonchan

Arroz Chaufa

Chaufa Rice is a Peruvian version of Chinese fried rice – the dish is part of Chifa cuisine, created by Chinese immigrants who adapted their recipes with Peruvian ingredients. 

This dish is a great way to use leftover cooked rice, sauteed in a Wok pan with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, onion, egg, chives, peppers and diced beef (beef, pork or chicken) or shrimp. 

peruvian chaufa rice on a plate, very popular fried rice dish in Peru
Arroz Chaufa | © alexat25

Want to learn how to make a fluffy white rice in the Brazilian style? Check out the recipe below!

A pan with cooked white rice using the Brazilian method
Perfect and fluffy white rice (Brazilian way)
Learn all the tricks to avoid mistakes when cooking a basic white rice recipe on the stove. Fluffy and super fragrant this is the perfect accompaniment to any dish.
Read Recipe

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