Brazilians adore rice. In some parts of Brazil where Africans had an impact, as in Salvador da Bahia, you might find women cooking the rice by the African method. But wherever there is a Portuguese influence, you will not find bland plain white rice. Though the rice is meant to be paired with flavorful saucy foods, many Brazilians prefer their white rice to have a flavor of its own, so they follow the pilaf method of sautéing it first in some fat with garlic, onion, and other seasonings, such as scallions and even bay leaf.

Serves 4 to 6 (makes about 4 1/4 cups)


  • 2 cups (about 13 ounces) long-grain rice
  • 2 Tbsp. corn oil or lard
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/4 Tbsp. salt


Place the rice in a medium bowl, cover with cold tap water, and swirl the rice, then drain while holding the rice in place with one hand. Repeat the process as many times as necessary until the water runs clear. Drain well in a sieve or strainer.

Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and bay leaf and sauté, stirring, until all the grains are well coated in the fat; do not brown. Stir in the water and salt and bring to a rolling boil. Cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the water evaporates and small craters form on the surface of the rice. Cover and cook, undisturbed, over very low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

From Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (W.W. Norton) by Maricel E. Presilla.

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