Food stories: Mexican Rice and Albondigas


What are albondigas? Albondigas are the Spanish version of meatballs in their simplest form. They are made from minced beef, pork, or veal (or a combination of these), as well as onion, garlic, bread, and parsley.

The word ‘albondigas’ is derived from the arabic phrase ‘al bunduq’ which means hazelnut and refers to their shape. Albondigas are loved all over the world and in Mexico, are often served with a tomato sauce and a kick of chipotle which will give a smoky flavour to the sauce. It is also served with Mexican rice red in colour because of the achiote (an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree from Mexico).

Mexican Rice:

Mexican rice is also referred to as Spanish rice, although people in Mexico refer to it simply as arroz (rice) or arroz rojo (red rice). There is no clear explanation as to why it’s called Spanish rice, but one theory is that rice was brought over to Mexico in the 1500s when Spain started their invasion. As the Spaniards continued their travels around the world, they visited Asia, and from there they brought back wheat and rice to Mexico.

Mexican rice is typically served as the second course of the midday meal, typically with beans or fish. It is also used in desserts, cakes, vegetable puddings, tamales, atoles and even the well known rice drink, horchata.

Mexican rice is made by browning white rice in fat, such as lard. It also includes onions and garlic as well as chicken broth, tomato flavoring, cilantro, and parsley. Sometimes vegetables are added such as chiles, corn, peas, bell peppers, or carrots.


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