What Is Turmeric Rice?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2020
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Turmeric rice is a type of rice dish that is primarily flavored with turmeric, a spice with a distinctive yellow hue that gives the dish a colorful appearance. The spice is made from the turmeric root, and is closely related to ginger. Indian cuisine tends to most commonly serve the rice as a side dish or combined with other ingredients to make a one-dish meal.

The type of rice that is used to make turmeric rice can vary depending on the preferences of the cook who is preparing the dish. It tends to generally be considered a versatile dish and can be prepared with most types of rice, including any variations of white rice or brown rice. A specific type of rice that is commonly used in the dish is basmati rice, a type of long grain rice with a distinctive nutty fragrance and flavor that is often found in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Freshly grated turmeric may be used in the dish, but ground turmeric tends to be the more common choice because it gives the rice the bright yellow hue that is the dish’s signature appearance. Other flavoring ingredients that may also be added include onions, garlic, curry powder, and any preferred vegetables.


The technique for preparing turmeric rice tends to be a basic method that can be expanded on, depending on the any additional ingredients that are used. If onions, garlic, or other vegetables are included in the dish, they are generally sautéed in oil or butter until they are cooked through. The rice may also be cooked in the butter or oil until it is just lightly browned to give it a deeper, toasted flavor; however, this step may be omitted as a personal preference. The turmeric is then added to the rice, along with enough liquid, such as water or chicken broth, to saturate the rice before the rice is covered and cooked until it absorbs the liquid and becomes fluffy and soft.

Turmeric rice may be served alone as a side dish for other Indian dishes, such as curries or other soups and stews. When the rice is part of a main dish, it is often topped with cooked lentils or vegetables and may be served with a side of yogurt. The rice may also be served with cooked meat or seafood, such as grilled beef, lamb, or shrimp.


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