Rainbow Rice

Rainbow Rice

Rainbow Rice is a colorful and flavorful rice dish with a spicy ginger chicken filling. My very talented aunt used to make this when I was a child, however, she used a steak filling. I do not have her recipe, but I loved the colorful rice concept and have adapted it to use a chicken filling instead. The chicken layer can also be substituted with a mince meat filling.

Recipe: Rainbow Rice

Categories: Rice Dishes; main dishes

Servings: 4-5


For the chicken layer:

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 green or red or yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water

For the rice layer:

  • 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for 20-30 minutes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • water as needed
  • 3 Tbsp green chutney
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • few strands of saffron
  • a touch of green, yellow and red food coloring (optional)


For the chicken layer:

  • In a pot, heat the oil. Add the onions and soften.
  • Add the peppers and soften slightly.
  • Add the garlic and ginger pastes and fry with the rest of the ingredients for a 1-2 minutes.
  • Add cumin and coriander powders and fry for a minute.
  • Add the fresh tomato and tomato paste and stir.
  • Add turmeric, chilli and salt.
  • Cook down the tomatoes and add the chicken.
  • Stir to coat the chicken with the tomato mixture. Add 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot to allow the chicken to cook.
  • Check the chicken every couple of minutes, it should be done in 10-12 minutes. Taste check to add any more spices to your liking.
  • Uncover and dry some of the water, however, it should still be slightly saucy.
  • Add lemon juice and stir.

The cooked chicken mixture

For the rice layer:

  • Drain the water from the soaked rice and rinse the rice in a colander.
  • In a large pot, boil 4 cups of water. Add the salt and rice.
  • Let the rice come to a boil and lower the heat. When the rice is done, pour the rice in a colander to drain the excess water. For further instructions on how to make boiled rice, please see: https://khojicook.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/osawelu-khaw-plain-boiled-rice/
  • Divide the cooked rice into 3 separate bowls, about 2 cups of loosely packed rice in each of the bowls.
  • For the green later of rice, add 3 Tbsp of green chutney to the first bowl of rice and mix thoroughly. If using food coloring, take a touch of the food coloring and dissolve in a teaspoon of water and add to the rice and mix well.

Green chutney rice, I haven’t used green food coloring

  • For the red layer of rice, add 2 Tbsp of ketchup to the second bowl of rice and stir well. If using food coloring, add a touch of red food coloring to a Tbsp of water, mix well and add to the rice.

Red layer of rice, I haven’t added food coloring

  • For the yellow layer of rice, in 2 Tbsp of  hot water break the saffron and stir. Add a touch of yellow food coloring to the saffron water. Add the saffron mix to the third bowl of rice and stir well.

Yellow rice, I have added food coloring to the rice


  • In a deep glass dish, add the green rice. I have used a casserole bowl.
  • Divide the chicken into two portions. Add one portion of the chicken over the green rice.


  • Pour the red colored rice on top of the chicken.
  • Add the remaining chicken on the red rice.


  • Add the yellow colored rice on the top of the second chicken layer.


  • Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Layering look from the side

  • Re-heat in the microwave or cover and heat in an 250°F oven.

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