An epicurean adventure to: South Africa
We're big fans of the Nando's spicy rice! But why wait in line at Nando's when you can whip up this fakeaway recipe for spicy rice in the comfort of your own kitchen?
This Nando's spicy rice recipe only needs one saucepan and less than 30 minutes to make, making it a fantastic option for a flavourful, quick and easy side dish to accompany a chicken main. It's great with grilled seafood too!
To make Nando's rice, you'll only need a few simple ingredients, plus our suggested combination of well-balanced spices.
We think it's a pretty close copycat for this signature side that made Nando's so popular, along with their infamous peri-peri chicken and often controversial, yet undeniably witty TV adverts in South Africa - Look them up on YouTube, but don't say you haven't been warned!
What's the origin of Nando's and their popular spicy rice?
Nando's, the purveyor of finger-licking good flame-grilled chicken, hails from the sunny land of South Africa! It all began in the bustling city of Johannesburg back in 1987. Since then, Nando's has spread its wings far and wide, delighting taste buds in numerous countries across the globe.
They are the number one go-to spot for Portuguese-inspired flavours. As their millions of fans will tell you, Nando's spicy rice is the BEST!
This rice is often mistakenly referred to as peri peri rice, but it contains no premade peri-peri sauce, just spices akin to the sauce.
- What's the origin of Nando's and their popular spicy rice?
- Fast facts - South Africa
- What's to love about this recipe for homemade Nando's spicy rice
- Key Ingredient notes and substitutions
- How to make Nando's spicy rice - Step-by-step
- Serving suggestions
- Make it vegan
- More recipes from South Africa
- Other rice recipes you might enjoy
Fast facts - South Africa
|Location||Southernmost tip of the African continent. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Lesotho.|
|Language||South Africa has 11 official languages, including English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Venda, Tsonga, Swati, and Ndebele. English is widely spoken and is the language of business, while Zulu and Xhosa are the most commonly spoken African languages.|
|Population||Circa 60.2 million|
|Trivia||South Africa is famous for its wildlife, but it's also home to the "dassie," also known as the rock hyrax. These small, furry creatures are often mistaken for rodents but are, in fact, the closest living relatives to the elephant. It's hard to imagine the resemblance!|
What's to love about this recipe for homemade Nando's spicy rice
- This simple recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make. One-pot rice recipe.
- Cooking rice perfectly can often leave some folks in a cold sweat, but just follow the step-by-step guide below and you'll realise just how easy it really is!
- If you're a fan of Nando's, then you'll love that this savoury rice is a copycat version of their famous spicy rice.
- Flavourful, savoury, fluffy rice.
- Vegetarian and vegan friendly, just swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock.
- It's the perfect rice side for many main course dishes like chicken, fish, seafood, salads etc.
Key Ingredient notes and substitutions
Chicken stock cube
We use two chicken stock cubes. You will notice that we are adding less salt to this recipe than you normally would for this amount of rice. That's because most of the saltiness will come from the stock.
For a vegan-friendly version, swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock cubes.
Red bell pepper
You can also use long, pointed peppers instead of red bell peppers. Just ensure the amount of diced pepper is roughly the same volume as the diced onions.
Nando's rice is usually made with red pepper, but you can add some green pepper as well if you prefer.
Red chilli flakes
This is a spicy rice recipe after all, so half a teaspoon of chilli flakes will give you a reasonable simmer of heat. Let's call it a medium heat.
If you or one of your guests are a bit spice-averse, you can add less chilli flakes. Or more, at your own peril.
If you want a very spicy rice, you can add a little pinch of cayenne pepper.
Any long-grain white rice, like Basmati rice, will work. You can use brown rice too, just bear in mind it will no longer be a close match for the Nando's version.
If you are using brown rice, it's always a good idea to soak it in hot water for a few hours before cooking it.
Frozen green peas
We would highly recommend using petit pois for their sweetness. They also look good in the rice because they're small, bright green and compact, unlike normal garden peas that can swell up quite large when cooked, and lose their colour.
This is purely a personal preference, so use your favourite frozen peas!
How to make Nando's spicy rice - Step-by-step
- Start by dissolving the two chicken stock cubes in the 800ml boiling water. Set aside.
- Chop the onion and red pepper into small cubes of roughly 1cm x 1cm. Set aside.
Make the rice
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat on the stove top.
- Add the chopped onions and red pepper to the hot oil and put the lid on.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.
You don't want to brown them, so keep an eye on them and give them a stir every minute or so
- Add the turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin, chilli flakes and black pepper to the vegetables.
- Fry for a further 1 minute.
- Add the dry, long grain rice, chicken stock and salt to the pan.
- Stir through with the vegetables and spices.
- Bring the water back up to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat down to low, put the lid back on and cook for 7 minutes. Keep it over a low heat throughout.
- After 7 minutes, stir in the peas. Place the lid back on and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest, with the lid on, for a further 10 minutes.
The cooking time is not very long, so it's imperative to keep the lid on for the final 10 minutes after you've removed it from the heat. It's a great way to give the rice time to absorb all the liquid without running the risk of drying it out or potentially burning it during an 'on-the-heat' cooking process.
- Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve.
This Portuguese rice is a great accompaniment to many dishes, like:
- Homemade peri peri chicken, grilled chicken breast, lemon herb chicken, chicken wings.
- Fish and seafood.
- Sweet potato fries.
- Chips with peri peri salt, or peri peri sauce.
- Garlic bread.
- Corn on the cob.
- Grilled pineapple.
- Portuguese bread rolls.
- Perinaise - Mix mayonnaise with Nando's peri-peri sauce.
- Toasted pitas.
- Enjoy it as a main dish by adding some sliced up, cooked chicken breasts to it.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- For dessert, to calm the heat, dark chocolate ice cream.
Make it vegan
Simply replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Serve with a spicy chickpea burger or a rainbow bowl with spiced grains, hummus and long stem broccoli.
For safety reasons, cooked rice should be consumed within 24 hours, so the rice will keep well until the next day if stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Transfer the leftover rice to the fridge quickly and don't leave it outside in the warm.
You can reheat the rice in the microwave. It will need about 3 minutes on high. Give it a stir and give it another blast if it's not hot enough.
You can also reheat the rice in a saucepan on the stove. You may need to add a small splash of water. Alternatively, you can fry the rice in a frying pan - this is delicious, especially if you get a few toasty bits.
The rice will freeze really well if stored in an airtight container in the freezer, for up to three months. To defrost, put the rice in the fridge to thaw overnight. Ensure you eat it all within 24 hours. Follow the reheating instructions above.
The homemade version is reasonably healthy, yes. It only contains a small amount of oil on quite a large quantity of rice. It also contains a good amount of healthy veggies.
We'd say it's a medium on the heat scale. It has a gentle, but noticeable simmer, but won't blow up your mouth too much. Adjust the spice level to your taste by using less, or more, chilli flakes.
No, this recipe is naturally gluten-free.
For this recipe, it's 303 calories for a generous portion.
Yes, there are no dairy products in this recipe.
Other rice recipes you might enjoy
Nando's spicy rice
- 1 large lidded saucepan
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 800 millilitre boiling water
- 1 medium onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil - or vegetable oil
- 1½ teaspoons turmeric
- 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- few grinds black pepper
- 400 grams long grain rice - like basmati
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 130 grams frozen peas - we like petit pois for their sweetness
- Start by dissolving the two chicken stock cubes in the 800ml boiling water. Set aside.2 chicken stock cubes, 800 millilitre boiling water
- Chop the onion and red pepper into small cubes of roughly 1cm x 1cm. Set aside.1 medium onion, 1 red bell pepper
Make the rice
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the chopped onions and red pepper to the hot oil and put the lid on. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened. You don't want to brown them, so keep an eye on it and give it a stir every minute or so.
- Add the turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin, chilli flakes and black pepper to the vegetables. Fry for a further 1 minute.1½ teaspoons turmeric, 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chilli flakes, few grinds black pepper
- Add the rice, chicken stock and salt to the pan and stir through with the vegetables and spices.400 grams long grain rice, ½ teaspoon salt
- Bring the water back up to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, put the lid back on and cook for 7 minutes.
- After the 7 minutes, stir in the peas. Place the lid back on and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest, with the lid on, for a further 10 minutes.130 grams frozen peas
- Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve.
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.