How to cook rice, according to 11 different countries

You can’t go wrong with rice. This international staple originated in Asia thousands of years ago and is one of the most-consumed foods around the world. Whether you like it sweet or savoury, sticky or creamy, steamed or fried, there’s no end to what you can do with rice and so many countries have put their distinct spin on it. If you’re learning how to cook rice, or perhaps looking for some new international rice recipes, here are 11 different ways to cook rice around the world.

Nasi goreng (Indonesia & Malaysia)

nasi goreng indonesian rice recipe

Nasi goreng translates to ‘fried rice’ in the Indonesian and Malaysian languages – but this is no run of the mill fried rice. This delicious stir fry consists of rice with vegetables and meats (usually prawn or chicken), all mixed together with garlic, shallots, tamarind and chilli.

Don’t forget the caramelised soy sauce and shrimp paste, the secret ingredient for that irresistible smoky flavour and brown tint. Want to make your nasi goreng extra special? Throw a fried egg on top!

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Paella (Spain)

seafood paella dish spain

When you think of rice in Spain, you’re probably imagining a big bowl of paella. It originated from the Valencia region of Spain, although today there are many different versions of paella.

The authentic Valencian way consists of white (round grain) rice, meat (preferably rabbit and snails or chicken), green beans, saffron and rosemary, while other versions of paella can include seafood, sausage and vegetables. However you like to cook your paella, it’s sure to be a winning rice recipe!

Jollof rice (West Africa)

jollof rice meat west africa rice recipe

Jollof rice is one of the most beloved dishes in West Africa, and you’re sure to love it too. It’s made with rice (of course), onion, spices like ginger, nutmeg and cumin, fresh tomatoes and tomato paste which makes the rice come out with a lovely red tint. Also known as ‘Benachin’ meaning ‘one-pot’, this jollof rice recipe is super simple and best served with a side of meat, fish or vegetables.

Bibimbap (South Korea)

bibimbap dish south korea

Bibimbap translates to ‘mixed rice’ in Korean, and this dish certainly lives up to its name! It’s served as a bowl of warm white rice, topped with sauteed veggies, chilli paste, soy sauce and sometimes meat (usually beef) and an egg (can be fried or raw). While the ingredients are all served separately, don’t forget to mix them all together before eating – just like Koreans do – for the perfect explosion of flavour.

Risotto (Italy)

mushroom risotto italian rice recipe

The Italians didn’t just bless the world with pizza and pasta. They also took the humble rice and turned it into something equally delicious – risotto. The dish originated from northern Italy and calls for short-grain rice (like arborio) slowly cooked in broth and wine until creamy.

Risotto recipes are not for the impatient, as you have to constantly stir and add more broth until all the liquid is absorbed. But it’s all worth it once you get to load it up with lashings of parmesan cheese and tuck in!

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Champorado (Philippines)

Rice doesn’t have to be savoury – in the Philippines they add chocolate! Champorado is a delicious chocolate rice porridge made by boiling sticky rice and cocoa powder with milk and sugar for the ultimate sweet treat. If you’re learning how to cook rice, this couldn’t be easier. Since it’s served for breakfast, dessert or merienda (snack time), there’s always room for champorado!

Biryani (India)

biryani indian rice recipes
Image credit: Garrett Ziegler / Wikimedia Commons

This iconic Indian dish has fans all over the world and we can see why! There are many different versions of biryani, but it’s usually made with lamb or chicken that has been marinated overnight and cooked with yoghurt, herbs, dried fruits and spices like turmeric and cinnamon in a clay oven. Mix in the semi-cooked basmati rice and you’ve got one truly delicious biryani dish.

Risengrød (Denmark)

bowl of risengrød rice pudding Denmark
Image credit: cyclonebill / Flickr

Risengrød literally translates to rice pudding, but this isn’t any old rice pudding. This traditional recipe is extremely popular in Denmark and is mostly served in December around Christmas. It’s made by boiling rice, milk, water and salt and topped with sweet twists like cinnamon, sugar and butter.

Many families make a big batch of risengrød on the 23rd and enjoy some of it for dinner, then save the rest for Christmas Eve. That’s when the rice pudding is mixed with vanilla, almonds and whipped cream to make risalamande, the delicious Christmas dessert. One thing’s for sure, this rice recipe is so tasty, you won’t want to wait until Christmas to make it!

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Onigiri (Japan)

onigiri rice ball japanese rice recipe

Rice is eaten for almost every meal in Japan, so they certainly know what they’re doing. Whether you’re tucking into the sticky, short-grain sushi rice, or the steamed sweet-savoury rice of katsudon, there are endless Japanese rice recipes. One of our favourites is onigiri, or rice ball, where white rice is moulded into triangular or circular shapes, then wrapped in nori. Try it out for the perfect Japanese rice snack!

Tahdig (Iran)

If you’re new to learning how to cook rice, tahdig is the dish for you! Believe it or not, the correct way to make this recipe is by burning the bottom of the pot. The name tahdig literally translates to ‘bottom of the pot’, so you really can’t go wrong.

The result is that you get crispy, caramelised rice on the bottom, and lovely steamed rice on top. Turn it upside down on a bed of potatoes, tomatoes and saffron yoghurt, and you’ve got a delicious Iranian speciality! Now you can tell your family you knew how to cook rice all along.

Hokkien fried rice (China)

hokkien fried rice chinese rice recipes
Image credit: sstrieu / Flickr

Also known as Fujian fried rice, this Chinese twist on the classic fried rice is downright addictive! It consists of a thick mixture of fried rice, egg, meat, vegetables, mushrooms, soy sauce and sesame. It’s quick and easy to make and if you want to go one step further when learning how to make Hokkien fried rice, you could add peanut oil and bamboo shoots for an extra authentic touch.

Do you have any rice cooking tips for people learning how to cook rice? Share your favourite international rice recipes in the comments below!

Banner image credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker / Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

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