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Spanish rice is a side dish made from white rice, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and other ingredients. It is traditionally made by sautéing the rice in a skillet until it is golden brown. Water or chicken broth is then added along with chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce.
Spanish rice is a popular dish in the American Southwest, which sometimes refers to the dish as "Mexican rice." However, Spanish rice and Mexican rice are relatively different; whereas Mexican rice sometimes uses cumin, Spanish rice uses saffron instead. The version of the dish cooked throughout Northern Mexico tends to be a more homogeneous character, often with just enough tomato and chili pepper to give the distinctive red-orange color and a smoky, garlic and onion-laden flavor. It is usually served as a side dish alongside other Mexican cuisine.
Although called "Spanish rice," this dish is unknown in Spain. The term "Spanish rice" is not used by Mexicans or Mexican food enthusiasts, and its use probably stems from the fact that the Spanish language is spoken in Mexico; the dish is usually simply referred to as arroz ("rice") in Mexico.