Monday, March 7, 2011

Orange and Spice Rice Salad

Here is another recipe that comes from my mom. Usually I adapt, tweak, and put my own spin on the many recipes that originate from her recipe files. This one, however, I have left alone. It is great, just the way it is. It was her "go to" recipe for any pot luck, block party, swim party or any of the other neighborhood parties that happened frequently in the 70's, in the suburbs, in the summer.
Those were the days.

In the new millennium, when most grocery stores have "ethnic" food sections with ingredients for Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Indian and pretty much any kind of cuisine you can think of, this recipe probably doesn't seem that unusual. But, back then, I mean way back when, when I was just a kid, this was a pretty rare flavor combination. Rice and cinnamon? Raisins and cumin? So exotic! The smell of it cooking was so enticing, like nothing I had ever smelled. It conjured images of riding on camel across the Arabian Desert, sitting on the floor in a nomadic tent and eating with your hands. . . a million miles from my Northern California suburb. Oh the adventure!

So, if you are in the mood for something a little different. An interesting combination of spices and ingredients, you'll love this. It's great for pot lucks; it tastes good cold, hot or at room temperature; it contains no dairy (sour cream, yogurt or mayonnaise) so you don't have to be overly concerned with spoilage; and it stands out against the usual pot luck fodder of pasta and potato salads. It's a great side dish or it could be a hearty vegetarian entree, whatever you like and I hope you will.

Orange and Spice Rice Salad

Here is what you'll need vegetable oil, brown rice (you can make it with either regular brown rice, shown, or instant brown rice (photo below), I prefer the instant and it's what I usually use, you can use either, I'll share in the recipe the few adjustments you'll need to make.), salt, pepper, sugar, ground cumin, cinnamon, raisins, lemon juice, thinly sliced green onion, rough-chopped salted cashews and rough-chopped and drained mandarin oranges. It's best to have everything chopped and measured before you start, it comes together pretty fast.

This is the rice I like to use. The rice ends up a bit softer, more the texture of white rice. If you prefer a nuttier crunch then use the regular brown rice.

Add the rice and 3 tablespoons of oil to a large frying pan over medium heat.

Cook, stirring frequently, until rice starts to brown.

Next add water, salt, pepper, sugar, cumin and cinnamon. 
Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
(30 minutes if you are using regular brown rice)

Throw in the raisins and cook 5 minutes more (20 minutes if you are using regular brown rice.), until the rice is tender and raisins are plump.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Stir in remaining 1/4 cup oil, lemon juice, onions, cashews and oranges. Refrigerate until ready to serve 
(I like to let it go overnight, really brings all the flavors together.)

Delicious, hearty, vegetarian and exotic!

Orange and Spice Rice Salad

3 T. plus 1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 C. instant brown rice (1 C. regular brown rice)
3 C. water (3-1/2 C. water)
1 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
4 t. sugar
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. cinnamon
1-1/2 C. raisins
1/3 C. lemon juice
1/2 C. thinly sliced green onion (including some green tops)
1 C. coarsely chopped salted cashews
1-15 oz. can mandarin oranges drained and coarsely chopped (or 4 large oranges peeled and chopped)

Put 3 T. vegetable oil and rice in a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir and cook until rice begins to brown.  Add water, salt, pepper, sugar, cumin and cinnamon. Stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes (30 minutes). Stir in raisins and cook 5 minutes (20 minutes) more or until rice is tender, raisins are plump and all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in remaining 1/4 C. oil, lemon juice, onions, cashews and oranges. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Best when refrigerated overnight.)

Modifications for making with regular brown rice are shown in italics.


  1. You are doing such a nice job on your blog! I feel especially lucky that I met your mom and watched her work her magic in your old suburban kitchen :)

  2. Recipes tied to memories are the best. I remember your mom cooking biscuits - I had never had biscuits before. And I'll never forget eating venison that your dad had hunted. That was the first time I had game.

    I'll have to try the rice dish. It has a moroccan twist - just like me! (-:

  3. I really enjoy hearing other's memories of my Mom (and Dad for that matter). Just neat to see them through someone else's eyes. Thanks to you both!
    Lara, unless you have a strong objection to using the instant rice, I really recommend it. It just has a better texture for this dish. Either will work. Let me know how you like it. And I was totally thinking of you when I posted this recipe.