Copycat Mahatma Spanish Rice (Healthier Vegan Version)

I like packaged rice a lot. It's just so convenient. But it's not like making rice is all that hard, anyway. My biggest issue actually comes in not knowing exactly what to put in it to make it taste all seasony and good. I guess that's why in my past life, I'd come to rely on packaged rice mixes quite a lot.

Mahatma's Spanish Rice is vegan anyway and it's cheap (like 50 cents). It has MSG, dextrose and maltodextrin in it, though. One of those gives me a migraine (depending on quantity) and the other two are usually derived from corn so a no-no for my allergic kid. Here's a healthier version I came up with that is almost as fast.

Mahatma ingredients:

Enriched Long Grain Rice [rice niacin, iron (ferric orthophosphate), thiamin (thiamin mononitrate), folic acid], Spanish Seasoning [Dehydrated Vegetables (Red & Green Bell Peppers, Tomato), Salt, Onion, Monosodium Glutamate, Maltodextrin, Spices, Dextrose, Turmeric, Extractives of Annatto, Annatto, Extractives of Paprika (color)].

My ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water or veggie stock
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or canola oil

  • 1/4 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • Same amount of red pepper if you have one, if not - omit
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeƱo, sliced - seeds and all
  • 1 seeded roma tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste when done)
  • 1/4 teaspoon annatto or achiote paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • enough turmeric to start turning the water yellow (a few shakes)


  1. Pour everything in a pot with a good fitting lid except the achiote paste and turmeric and stir.
  2. Add shakes of turmeric until the water starts to color a bit. Don't add more than like 1/4 teaspoon I'd think) and then crumble the achiote paste in.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 40 minutes.
  4. Let sit for a few minutes off the heat and then stir and serve.

This is spectacular with some black beans, guacamole, fried potatoes and salsa all wrapped in a tortilla and it's a weekly go-to thing around here. The brown rice is also just superior in texture compared to the rice mix. It's so much more hearty and filling.

Oh, and a note about annatto or achiote paste. It's readily available around here, but then I live in Texas. Stores like Festival and Fiesta are abundant and grocery stores stock all the good (and bad) Mexican food brands and foods. I get El Yucateco Achiote Paste and they have that at Amazon (see link below) and Central Market. It's dry and comes in a sort of brick. It doesn't take much at all, either. Any time you want your rice to have that red, Spanish look, add a little of this to the water or stock.

Another option, if you're familiar with the Viva Vegan cookbook, would be to use the Annatto-Infused Oil recipe in place of the canola oil + achiote paste. Angry and Cooking talks about making this oil as well as the Arroz con Seitan using capers and green olives. I really heart that recipe, too, but it's a little more work than I'm looking for on a weeknight. I'm also finding that seitan is coming in far behind other ways that I "replace meat." Zucchini, beans and potatoes are much more desirable to me in that regard.


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