Rice is just one of those foods. You can find it in the cuisine of almost every country, from Asia to Africa to North America. But just about everyone has a different—and delicious—way of preparing it. Get to know some of your fellow rice connoisseurs by trying these international recipes.

Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Sweet Sticky Rice)

Origin: Thailand

This simple dessert is delicious when served with fresh mango, and chilled pineapple also makes for a great topping. To be truly authentic, prepare this dish in a bamboo basket.


  • 1½ cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2½ cups coconut milk
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 mangos, peeled and sliced
  • Toasted sesame seeds or chocolate pudding powder (optional)


  1. Combine 1½ cups rice, 1 cup coconut milk, and 1 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until water is absorbed, roughly 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. While the rice cooks, mix together 1½ cups coconut milk, ¾ cup sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Stir frequently to prevent boiling over. Remove from heat and set aside. Stir the cooked rice into the coconut milk mixture while it is still hot; cover. Allow to cool for 1 hour, and do not uncover.
  3. Place the sticky rice on a serving dish. Arrange the mango slices on top of the rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or chocolate pudding powder if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

These rice balls are commonly used in Japanese lunchboxes called bento. Try different fillings to find your own favorite. Steamed pork and pickled plums are favorites in Japan.

Origin: Japan


  • 4 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 5½ cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can tuna or salmon, deboned and drained
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 sheets of dried seaweed, cut into half-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Rinse the rice in a mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Combine washed rice and 4½ cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer rice until the water is absorbed, roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rice rest for 15 minutes to allow the rice to continue to steam and become tender. Allow cooked rice to cool.
  2. While rice is cooking, combine tuna (or salmon) and mayonnaise in a separate bowl. This will become the filling for the rice balls. Alternate fillings include pickled plum, beef, pork, chicken, or turkey.
  3. Combine 1 cup water with salt in a small bowl. Use this water to wet hands before handling the rice; this will keep rice from sticking to hands as it is handled. Divide cooked rice into eight equal portions. Use one portion of rice for each rice ball.
  4. To create individual rice balls, put rice in a small bowl and create a dimple in the rice. Fill with tuna mixture or other filling. Cover with the remaining portion of rice and press lightly to enclose the filling inside the rice ball. Gently press rice into a triangle or a ball shape. Wrap a strip of dried seaweed around rice ball. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat with remaining rice.

Yield: 8 servings

Red Rice

This recipe is an adaptation of a dish called Jollof rice, which originated in Africa. This basic recipe can be altered in many ways; try adding vegetables like bell peppers or peas and meats like beef to find a combination you like.

Origin: Africa


  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • ¼ pound bacon or ham, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1.     In a large skillet, fry bacon or ham. Remove the meat. Sauté onion in the remaining fat. Reduce heat to medium.

2.     Add rice and stir until thoroughly coated. Add tomatoes, salt, and chicken stock; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Add the bacon or ham, stir until warmed thoroughly, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya

A combination of French, Spanish, and even German culture results in the unique Cajun dishes like this one, enjoyed by so many.

Origin: Louisiana


  • 2 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 10 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced into rounds (another type of smoked sausage can be substituted)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1¼ cups white rice, uncooked
  • 2½ cups chicken broth


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Sauté sausage until lightly browned. Remove with slot and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and sauté chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, sauté onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Yield: 6 servings

– Jennifer Tingey