Archive | March, 2018

Sandra’s Brazilian Rice

22 Mar

Portrait of Sandra PSTR3

Mel and I were newlyweds when we met Sandra and René. It was 1968 and we were living in a tiny studio apartment in married student housing at the University of Colorado. On a warm summer day, through the open window, I heard a conversation in an unknown language. It sounded like French, but it wasn’t. Could it be Spanish? No. So I went outside and met Sandra and René. They were also recently married and looking for their new apartment. They thought it was next to ours, but they had the wrong building. So we took them across the courtyard to the right building, found their apartment, and helped them carry in their luggage. And then we took them to the grocery store.

And thus began a friendship of nearly fifty years, so far. For the few years Sandra and René were at the University of Colorado, we shopped together, cooked together, ate together, and laughed together. As Sandra and René met other Brazilian students at CU, Mel and I found ourselves at Brazilian barbecues and birthday parties, although at the time we didn’t speak a word of Portuguese.

We have remained close through the years, despite the distance. Sandra and René have visited the U.S. several times, and we have made it to Brazil twice so far. We have met their children and their families, and they have met ours. In 1985, our friendship with Sandra and René led us to say yes to being host family to a Brazilian student at the University of Kansas. Mauro, our filho brasileiro, also became a permanent part of our lives. He taught us Portuguese, and I surprised him by making some of Sandra’s recipes.

All this began with a random meeting many years ago. In June, we will celebrate fifty years of friendship by meeting in Colorado and visiting Boulder, where we first met.

Sandra’s Brazilian Rice

This is the first dish I ever watched Sandra make. I had never seen anyone make rice this way and it was delicious. So she taught me, and here is how to make it. It’s great with Brazilian food (like feijoada), but you can make it any time. It is a very simple recipe but to me it tastes better than any rice I have ever had. Maybe it’s the oil and the garlic. Or maybe it’s the memories. . .

Chop 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (and a couple of tablespoons of chopped onion if you like) and sauté gently in a couple of tablespoons of oil in a sturdy saucepan or casserole dish, just until the garlic and onions begin to soften a bit. (Do not let the garlic and onions turn brown.) Add 2 cups of white rice and stir quickly until the rice is coated with the oil and begins to turn pale golden. Add 4 cups of water and stir in. Raise the heat and stir occasionally just until the water starts to boil. Then immediately turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Use a fork to fluff up the rice.


I drew this portrait of Sandra in 1969. When we visited Brazil in 2016, I saw it hanging in her house. I recently edited it a bit on the computer and added some color.

Written by Randa Dubnick

Image: Portrait of Sandra (Revised)

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