Product Review: Aldi Mexican Rice Kit
This review is not sponsored by Aldi
Product name: Fiesta Chilli and Garlic Rice Dinner Kit
Calories per serving (1/4 pack): 209 kcal / 889kj
One pack serves: 4 people
What does the kit actually contain?
* A packet of long grain rice
* 1 sachet of chilli and garlic tomato sauce
* 1 sachet of spice mix
See: photo of kit contents before use
What else do I have to add?
The pack suggests that you add the following:
* 500g of diced chicken
* 1 diced red pepper
* 1 diced yellow pepper
* 1 finely sliced onion
* A dash of oil
I also added:
* Some fresh, ripped up, coriander
* Homemade guacamole on the side
* A little extra garlic purée when cooking
What does the packaging look like?
The packaging for this dinner kit looks very similar to the UK brand-leader in Mexican-style cooking kits, ‘Old El Paso’. The colours are bright and cheerful, and the lettering is clear. All the information you’d expect to find, such as calorie content, ingredients, and cooking instructions are easy to find and well displayed.
See photos: packaging
Are the cooking instructions good?
The cooking instructions are clear and easy to understand. The pack gives us three steps to follow, explained in text alongside accompanying little illustrations:
1. ‘Stir it up!’: Dice the chicken and fry in a dash of oil for 4 minutes until browned. Add the diced peppers and onions and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the sachet of rice and stir fry for a further minute.
2. ‘Heat it up!’: Then add the seasoning and the sauce to the pan, stir and add 350ml of water. Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
3. ‘Tuck in!’: Take to the table and serve straight from the pan for the ultimate Mexican experience. For a vegetarian alternative, swap the chicken for plain tofu. Ensure that the product is thoroughly cooked and piping hot throughout, no pink meat remains and the juices run clear. Do not reheat. Not suitable for microwave cooking. Enjoy your rice!
I would say that a novice to cooking would be able to follow this recipe; it’s not complicated. The pack gives a vegetarian alternative idea, but I would say that rather than replace the chicken with tofu, I’d use black beans, kidney beans, or a mix of both.
See photo: cooking process
How much leftover packaging and waste was there?
The packaging includes the cardboard box, plastic packet of rice, foil plastic pack of sauce, and the spice packet. Of these, I could only recycle the cardboard packet, so I’d say that while the leftover packaging wasn’t the worse, it could definitely be improved in terms of reducing landfill waste.
See photo: packaging leftover
What was the final presentation like?
Very good! The rice becomes nice and sticky, closer to a paella than I had expected, and turns a lovely rich colour when the sauce is absorbed. When plated up, it looks appetising, even more so if you choose to add a little ripped fresh coriander, as I did.
See photo: the final result!
So, how was the taste – was it spicy, authentic?
I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed this dish! I cook using spices bought in Peru, Spain and Mexico on a weekly basis, so I expected this dish to fall a little flat – I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavour from the spice mix. I’d say it was less spicy than what I would consider ‘authentic’, and definitely saltier than the food I cook at home. If you felt that it lacked spice, it would be easy to add either chilli powder or jalapeňos to the rice mixture.
What could I add to mix it up a bit next time?
I have cooked this kit a few times now, and have tried adding in different kinds of beans in place of half the amount of chicken. I prefer this as I feel it offers more texture and flavour. It works well with white beans, kidney beans, and black beans. You The rice dish also goes well when served with guacamole or fresh tomato salsa on the side. If you want to increase the amount of vegetables, you could try adding green peppers or halved cherry tomatoes along with the suggested red and yellow peppers.
See photo: additional ideas
Overall, is it good value for money?
The closest comparable kit is the ‘Old El Paso chilli and garlic rice kit’, which retails at between £1.89 and £3 in the major UK supermarkets. From what I can see, the contents of the kits and the instructions seem pretty similar, so I would say that the Aldi version presents a decent saving and good value for money in that sense. However, it would be cheaper to make this dish yourself from scratch, using rice, tinned tomatoes, garlic and spices – provided you already have a well-stocked spice rack at home!
This Aldi ‘Fiesta’ rice kit is a hit with my family – I’d happily cook it again, but probably substitute half the amount of chicken for white beans or black beans, and add in fresh coriander at the table.