We recently had a family meal where I served cilantro lime rice with beef fajitas and this black bean and mango salad. My daughter-in-law, Shania, told me she loves cilantro lime rice, and asked me how to make it. So, I told her how I make it.
Later, I went looking for recipes online and admittedly, there are a lot of them. And they all seem to do things a little differently. Who knew there were so many Chipotle copycat recipes in existence! But I kinda like the way I make it. And since Shania wanted to know, I thought others might like this quick and easy version too.
so, let’s make some cilantro lime rice
Six common ingredients for such great taste!
Many recipes out there call for a long grain white rice. I, however, am a complete devotee of basmati rice. It is a super long grain, cooks up more quickly and much fluffier than a regular long grain variety. And I think it has a slightly different and better taste as well.
Fluffy rice is important when making cilantro lime rice because you have to toss in the cilantro and lime juice after the rice is cooked. If the rice is already a little clumpy, the finished product will not be quite as good.
I recommend running the rice through a couple of rinses until the water appears clearer. I usually put a measured one cup of rice in a 2-cup measuring cup and wash it in there. The spout on the measuring cup allows for a convenient way to drain the rinse water.
Begin by sautéing the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. But just until fragrant, about a minute or so.
Then add the rice and stir to mix well.
Add the water and salt it to taste. Raise the heat to medium-high and allow the water to come to an active boil.
Then cover and reduce the heat to low or medium-low. Just enough to keep a gentle simmer going.
Basmati rice, for me, cooks in about 15 minutes. Regular long grain rice, about 20. I recommend checking it near the end of the cooking time to make sure all the water is absorbed. You want to remove it when the moisture is gone but before the rice starts to break down and the starch begins to coat the bottom of the pan.
You should end up with a fully cooked rice that fluffs up nicely into distinct separate grains without clumping.
Add the chopped cilantro and drizzle the lime juice in a circular motion to distribute throughout the pan.
I use A LOT more cilantro than I saw in other recipes. Rice triples in volume when cooking, so one cup raw makes 3 cups cooked. 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cilantro is not enough, in my opinion, do give this dish the delicious herby flavor I like. So, I use a 1/3 ratio of cilantro to rice. It works for me.
Then toss until everything is evenly distributed.
At this point, taste it for flavor. You can adjust for salt and/or lime juice if needed
And it is ready to go to the table!
I usually finish seasoning the rice just before serving my meal. But today, after photographing the finished dish, I needed to finish making lunch. See, Steve has been working from home and it was time to get him something to eat. No worries, I put the lid back on the rice to keep it warm for the 15 minutes or so it took me to whip up an easy and tasty shrimp in sauce to serve over our beautiful cilantro lime rice.
And versatility, after amazing taste, is one of the great things about this side dish. It can be served as a traditional side with a protein, it can be added to burritos, it can serve as the base of any medley bowl, either Mexican or Asian.
But I especially love it with seafood. Seafood pairs so well with lime. The shrimp with that luscious tomato-based sauce was made even better with the herby and citrus goodness of the cilantro lime rice. So quick and easy! Go make your own and tell me what you chose to pair your rice with!
Cilantro Lime Rice
- 1 cup basmati or other long grain white rice
- 1/4 cup onion chopped
- 1 garlic clove large, diced
- 1 ¾ cup water 2 cups if using long grain rice
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat just until fragrant.
- Add the rice and stir to distribute.
- Add the water and salt to taste. Raise heat to medium-high until the water is actively boiling. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to low or medium-low, just enough to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Refer to the notes for cooking times, depending of variety of rice used.
- Remove from heat when all moisture has been absorbed and rice is cooked but can be easily fluffed with a fork. Fluff the rice to loosen the grains. Add the chopped cilantro and drizzle the lime juice in circular motions to distribute throughout the pot. Toss everything until the flavors are evenly distributed. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and lime juice as needed.
- Serve warm.
Glenn A. McGrew II says
Unfortunately, the direction to bring the rice to a boil on medium-high resulted in the rice being slightly dry in the middle. I’ve been cooking rice on the stovetop for decades and the only times I’ve gotten this result is when I don’t follow my recipe for rice. I put my rice and quinoa in the water, bring it to a full boil at max heat, covered, then turn it down to simmer (which varies greatly for gas and electric, and between brands), and let it simmer for 20 minutes. This works great for all but black rice, which requires longer cooking and a bit more water to produce fluffy grains.
As a result of not doing this, my rice was slightly crunchy, too moist and clumpy, so it wasn’t an enjoyable meal. 🙁
Glenn, it’s a shame you didn’t enjoy the meal. It sounds like you have the solution for how to cook the rice if you choose to make this dish again. I can assure you that the instructions worked very well for the basmati rice I used for this post. As you yourself indicated, there are many variables that can impact the cooking of rice.