Rice is so omnipresent that many people prepare it in a rice cooker and add it to any dish they're having.

Too generic!

Rice is a magical food that can transform your meal in various ways, as it can be made salty, sweet, spicy…

If you're short on time, you don't necessarily need to prepare exotic foods. However, sometimes even a couple of ingredients can add a touch of different cultures to your table.

Consider our rice recipe recommendations below.

Vegetarian Chili and Rice

This tasty vegetarian chili with rice can be made in any home, as the ingredients are universally available.

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 200g dry rice (your choice)
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes (canned is fine)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup corn (optional)
  • cheddar cheese for topping (optional)
  • sliced green onions for topping (optional)


Prepare rice as you usually do. Boil in water or broth.

To prepare the sauce, heat oil over medium heat and add black beans, corn, bell peppers, onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stir for ca. 2 minutes until onions are soft.

Add tomatoes and tomato sauce (and any additional ingredients you like). Reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple of minutes (until the softness of ingredients is to your taste). Stir in rice. Top with cheese and green onions (optional).

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom risotto is a timeless classic in Europe and North America. It can be customized to such an extent that one can easily eat a different dish every couple of days simply by adding different spices.

Of course, the choice depends on your palate, so do experiment a bit. Provided here is a general recipe.

Ingredients (serves four):


  • Vegetarian broth (5 cups)
  • 1 ½ cups rice of your choice
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp butter


  • 750g mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Finishing touch:

  • Parsley, chives, or any other herb of your preference
  • Parmesan


Combine oil and half the butter in a large pot over high heat. Add half mushrooms to the pot once butter has melted. Add garlic with salt and pepper. When garlic has turned golden brown, add the remaining mushrooms.

Remove from the pot. Turn down heat and use the same pot for risotto. Melt butter. Add garlic and onion and fry until onion is translucent (not golden!). Add wine and simmer until it evaporates (ca. 2 minutes).

Add rice. Stir for a minute, then add a bit of stock. It's safe to follow the Chinese trick here: the liquid should be ca. 1cm above the rice. Gradually add the rest of the stock and wait until it absorbs. Rice needs to be creamy, but this can be varied according to your taste.

Finishing touch:

Top with parsley and parmesan.

Tip: To make risotto extra creamy, add cream and butter to the pot once rice is cooked and stir in.  

Vegetarian Biryani

There are many ways to make biryani. We'll stick to the basic one. Feel free to add additional ingredients to suit your palate.

Note that Indian dishes use ghee instead of oil and regular butter. You can make home-made ghee yourself but it is okay to substitute it with oil or regular butter. The result will be less oily and less sweet but otherwise perfectly tasty.

Tip: make basic garam masala in advance or buy the mixture beforehand.

Ingredients (serves four):


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Ginger garlic paste
  • Garam masala
  • 1 green chili
  • 2tbs coriander leaves
  • ¼tbs turmeric
  • 1 small tomato
  • Water or coconut milk (ca. 1 ¼ cup, depending on the size of the pot; stick to the Chinese rule for rice cooking)
  • 2tbs ghee/oil
  • 3tbs yoghurt
  • Salt to taste


Various vegetables may be used. However, make sure they combine well with turmeric and spices. Traditionally, vegetables used in biryani include green beans, potatoes, and carrots (1/3 cup each).


  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Green cardamoms (to taste, but no more than 3)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf


Soak rice for at least 20 minutes (overnight is fine). Chop vegetables and coriander leaves.

Melt ghee in a pot. Add spices and sauté for no more than 2 minutes. Add onions and chilies. Add ginger garlic paste. Sauté for a minute. Add vegetables. Fry for 2 minutes or so. Add all remaining ingredients except for water/coconut milk.

When tomatoes break down, add drained rice. Add water/coconut milk. Add salt (it needs to be salty, so taste it!). Pour across the edges of the pot to ensure all ingredients cook evenly.

These three dishes should serve perfectly to remind you that rice isn't just a simple staple food. With the right mixture of spices alone, it can transform your dining experience dramatically.