Four chili brown rice

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Four chili brown rice

Amazing fall colors have arrived in the farmers’ markets. Catching my attention recently were the many different kinds, colors, and shapes of peppers and chilies. 

Knowing basically nothing about cooking Mexican food, it felt almost adventuresome to contemplate what to buy not having any idea what I would eventually cook with what I bought. That’s part of the fun when you shop at a farmers’ market. 

I came home with red and green pasilla chilies, also known as poblanos, chilacas (long, skinny, and deep green), and jalapeños. Charring them so they could be skinned and seeded takes a little time, but it was ultimately very satisfying to successfully skin the chilies. 

What was brand new to me is part of daily life for millions of people. Combined with more familiar ingredients, this four-chili brown rice is spectacular. White rice can also be used but there is a little extra fiber and more vitamins in the brown rice. 

I added a can of black beans, more oregano, and cumin to the leftovers the next day and had it with a scrambled version of huevos rancheros using egg substitute.

Servings: 8 to 10


  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 to 6 chilies, combination of pasilla and chilaca, charred, skinned, and diced
  • 1/2 large onion, about 1 cup chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, about 2 plus tablespoons seeded and minced (“Seeding” is easy if you just cut the sides off leaving the core and the seeds all attached. I used to split the jalapeño and then flick the seeds out)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 big tomato or the equivalent amount of cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch scallions, light green and white parts chopped


  1. There are several options to prepare the peppers. I tried broiling them whole the first time, but you had to turn them occasionally to blacken them on all sides. Their irregular contours made that a challenge. 
  2. The next time, I cut them open, seeded them, and laid them flat on a broiler pan skin side up and they blackened evenly in a few minutes.
  3.  I put them into a bowl straight from the oven and covered them with plastic wrap for about 10 minutes. It was then reasonably easy to peel the skin off. I didn’t worry about getting every little bit of skin off the chilies. 
  4. In a large skillet heat the oil, then sauté the chilies and the next 6 ingredients covered until the onions soften about 10 minutes. 
  5. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. 
  6. Add the broth, tomatoes, and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the rice is tender. (Brown rice takes longer than white rice).
  7.  Stir in the scallions. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for about 10 minutes. 
  8. Cook a protein source, make a salad and enjoy dinner.