Royal Rice. A fusion of Mexican and Indian flavors.

This rice dish is really interesting because it is a blend of Indian and Mexican flavors all mashed up into one main dish that can be had with yogurt raita or as a side with fish or chicken. 


A little background

An issue of Food and Wine magazine arrived in the mail and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was completely dedicated to the cuisine of Mexico.  

In this issue the two recipes that got me intrigued were vegetarian dishes that combined Mexican and Indian flavors. One of the recipes was called royal rice and the other one was for Indian pakoras made with chickpea flour, Mexican herbs, and Mexican lager beer.


Royal Rice. A fusion of Mexican and Indian flavors.

This rice recipe is a creation of Bay Area chef couple Norma Listman and Saqib Keval who started restaurant Masala y Maiz – which is an Indian/Mexican/Kenyan/Ethiopian fusion restaurant in Mexico City.  


Royal rice is described by Saqib as a “Desi and Mexican hybrid of Indian biryani and toasted pilaf style rice cooked in coconut milk with nuts, dried fruit, and herbs.”  

With sweet raisins, almonds, onions, garlic and coconut milk, this is a delicious rice dish that surprisingly has no spices.


Royal Rice
Royal rice by Saqib Keval and Norma Listman with a few modifications

Cook’s Notes:  This recipe makes a large quantity of rice almost 10 cups. The recipe is also a multi step process. Below is my version with some shortcuts and I also cut the recipe down to 2 cups of rice for my family of five and it was still a lot of rice. I also found the coconut milk neutralizes a lot of the onion and garlic flavors so you need extra of both to taste them. Here is a modified recipe and ingredients list.


  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 4 tbsp natural raw almonds or slivered almonds
  • 5 fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions or 2 medium onions finely cut
  • 6-8  large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can 13.5oz coconut milk, well shaken and stirred
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh mint plus more for garnish


  • In large pot heat 3 tbsp oil and lightly toast raisins and almonds for about 1 minute.
  • Next add the curry leaves and toast in oil for a few seconds.
  • Add garlic and onions and sauté until onions are translucent about 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until light golden brown – about 5 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk, 5 cups water, salt to taste, fresh mint, and chili flakes (optional).  Bring the rice to a boil then lower the heat and cover the pot.  Cook rice for 15-20 minutes until rice is tender and all the water has evaporated.
  • After 20 minutes open the pot and fluff rice with a fork. It is okay if the bottom of the pot burns slightly, scrape the burnt rice bits and incorporate it into the rice.  Royal rice is ready.
  •  Garnish with fresh mint, cilantro, and toasted almonds before serving.

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