Rice is one of the most common foods in the world. In fact, between 2021 and 2022, research suggests that around 520 million metric tons of rice was consumed around the world. Rice is versatile, nutritious (it’s mainly a good source of carbohydrates), and goes with pretty much anything. But if you’re wondering: which types go best with which meals? You’ve come to the right place.
8 types of rice, and the best vegan meals to serve them with
1 White rice
White rice—which is actually rice that has had its outer husk, bran, and germ removed during the milling process—is eaten all over the world with many, many different types of foods. It’s incredibly versatile—you can eat it with pretty much any dish you like. Due to its neutral flavor, it’s the perfect supporting side for an array of flavorful dishes.
2 Brown rice
Unlike white rice, brown rice has not undergone the milling process that removes the outer husk, bran, and germ. Because of this, it is considered a healthy alternative, because it is richer in nutrients, like B vitamins and fiber. Just like white rice, however, brown rice has a neutral flavor and goes with many different dishes, from curries to stir-fries.
3 Jasmine rice
Primarily grown in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, jasmine rice is a long-grain rice known for its floral aroma and its ability to absorb flavors well. It can be made with brown or white rice, and it’s usually served with fragrant Thai curries, like massaman and green curry, as well as Vietnamese pho, and stir-fries.
4 Wild rice
This one is sort of cheating because it’s not technically rice. Wild rice is actually grass seed, but because it is cooked and eaten like rice (and it even has rice in the name), we’ve included it in this list. Its grains are long and slender, and it goes beautifully with ingredients like mushrooms, herbs, root vegetables, and creamy sauces.
5 Sushi rice
As you may have guessed, sushi rice—a type of short-grain rice seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt–is the key component of Japanese sushi. It’s sweet, tangy, and a little bit sticky, which is why it’s the perfect ingredient for holding sushi rolls together.
6 Basmati rice
Known for its distinct nutty and floral aroma, basmati rice is a type of long-grain rice predominantly used in South Asian cuisine. It often serves as a side dish for curries and pilafs, but it can also be the star of the show in dishes like biryani—which is rice mixed with spices, vegetables, and protein—for example.
7 Bomba rice
Grown primarily in Valencia, bomba rice—a type of short-grain rice—is the key ingredient in paella, the national dish of Spain. This is because it can absorb liquid and flavor without losing its shape or texture. Paella is usually made with meat or seafood, but it’s easy to make a vegan version by using just vegetables or by adding vegan meat.
8 Arborio rice
Arborio rice is very similar to bomba rice—it’s short-grain and holds its shape and texture well when combined with lots of sauce. For that reason, it’s the key ingredient in risotto, one of Italy’s most popular dishes.
Upgrade your vegan cooking: 5 ways to improve your rice
Rice is one of the easiest ingredients to cook—especially if you have a rice cooker! All you need is rice and water. But if you want rice with a little bit extra, say, pizazz, there are things you can do to take this simple side to the next level. Here are some of our top tips for improving your rice cooking skills.
1 Cook with wine
In dishes like risotto and pilaf, rice is often cooked with wine, which helps to bring acidity to the dish, enhancing the overall flavor. The type of wine depends on the context of the dish—if you’re going for a creamy white rice dish, opt for white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. If you’re going for a heartier tomato-based dish, choose a red wine, like a merlot or pinot noir.
2 Stir in fresh herbs and spices
Stirring some herbs and spices into your rice can help to add more depth of flavor to your dish, and create an appetizing aroma, too. Another benefit is the added nutritional value: herbs and spices, like rosemary and turmeric, are often rich in antioxidants, for example, and may also be anti-inflammatory.
3 Add olive oil
Next time you’re cooking rice, add a drizzle of olive oil to the water to help loosen up the grains and stop them from sticking together. It also prevents foaming, and adds a pleasant mild, slightly nutty flavor, too.
4 Cook with vegan butter
Similar to olive oil, adding some vegan butter to your rice while it cooks can help to improve the overall texture, resulting in a smoother, fluffier-looking rice. But it can also add a delicious element of creamy, nutty flavor to the dish, too.
5 Add crumbled vegan meat
If you’re cooking fried rice, or you simply want to add some protein to your side dish, consider adding some vegan chicken strips, tofu, or even bacon crumbles into the mix. It transforms a simple side dish into a protein-packed, delicious meal that can stand on its own, with or without a main.