This Turmeric Rice aka Indian Yellow Rice is a flavor bomb, super easy to make, healthy plus delicious. It makes for a great weeknight dinner, ready under 30 minutes. Serve it with grilled veggies, tandoori chicken, grilled kababs, curry, raita or a stew. No matter how you serve, this unique aromatic turmeric rice is going to impress your family and guests for sure!!
Turmeric rice is made in almost all Asian countries but much differently in each country. Various ingredients like rice, spices, stock, broth, onions and herbs are used depending on the region. This post shows you how to make the simplest yet flavorful turmeric rice in a jiffy.
About Turmeric Rice
This yellow rice recipe uses basmati rice, turmeric, warming whole spices & herbs. It is a one pot dish where the spices are tempered in fats like butter/ghee/ oil to bring out the aroma. Then rice is simmered with these spices & liquids to perfection.
In no time this will cook up to a super aromatic and delicious dish infused with whole spices and lots of goodness.
In Indian cuisine, we make a lot of rice varieties like pulao, biryani & bhath recipes. Most homes do not make turmeric rice as such but add turmeric to pretty much every rice dish except for the plain steamed rice.
This turmeric rice is the way I make at home when I wish to make the meal more colourful & interesting.
It has a very unique aroma and doesn’t taste or smell like the usual pulao or biryani. I make a lot of variations to this turmeric rice and have listed it down in the recipe notes.
This dish is best prepared in a pot or a dutch oven on a very low flame. But it can also be made in an instant pot or an Indian cooker. I have included the details of the same below.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a warming spice that comes from the rhizomes of turmeric plant. It is widely used in Indian cooking since it imparts a vibrant color & an earthy flavour to the dishes. Apart from that it is also believed to boost immunity & keep the body warm during winters.
How to Make Turmeric Rice (Stepwise Photos)
1. Rinse rice very well in ample amount of water. Drain and soak for at least 15 to 30 mins. If you are in a hurry, soak them in slightly hot water for 10 mins. Drain and use.
2. Peel and mince ginger and garlic. If using green chilli, chop it and set aside.
3. Heat a pot with butter. When the butter melts, add all the whole spices and saute them on a low heat for 30 to 60 seconds.
4. Then add ginger, garlic and chilli (optional). Saute them until fragrant. Do not brown them.
5. Add pepper, turmeric and salt. Quickly stir.
6. Drain the water completely and add the rice. On a high flame saute very well for 2 mins stirring occasionally and not frequently.
7. Pour stock or coconut milk. Stir and taste it. The water must be slightly salty else add a bit more.
8. Reduce the flame to very low and cook covered until the turmeric rice is done. If you want to make this in the Indian pressure cooker, cook for 1 whistle on a medium flame.
9. When done there will be no moisture at the bottom of the pan.
- Rinse rice: Always rinse rice well in lots of water, at least thrice or until the water runs clear. This removes the excess starch that’s on the surface of the rice & won’t make the turmeric rice sticky.
- Soak rice: Soak rice for at least 15 to 30 mins. During the soak, rice grains absorb some moisture and swell up. They expand well while cooking. So you will get fluffy and perfectly cooked long grainy turmeric rice.
- Fry rice: Frying rice in butter not only brings out the aroma of the fragrant rice but also prevents the rice grains from becoming mushy.
- Liquid to rice ratio: To cook turmeric rice in a regular pot use 3 cups liquid. To cook in instant pot use 1¾ cups plus 2 tbsps. If using Indian cooker with whistle use 2.5 cups.
- For best flavors, cook the turmeric rice on a low heat.
- Do not substitute butter with oil. You may use ghee (clarified butter)
- Coconut milk or stock: Do not use water to cook this rice. You won’t get the real flavors. Canned coconut milk is too thick for this recipe. You can use coconut milk from carton.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1½ cups basmati rice (or jasmine rice)
- 2½ to 3 tablespoons butter
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric (prefer organic)
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced or paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced or paste
- 3 cups stock or coconut milk (refer notes)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground pepper or crushed black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (I use caraway seeds – shahi jeera)
- 6 green cardamoms
- 6 cloves
- 2 inches cinnamon (2 pieces)
- 1 strand mace (optional)
- 1 star anise
- ¼ cup coriander leaves chopped
- ¼ cup nuts & raisins (optional) (refer notes)
- Rinse rice well a few times. Soak it for at least 15 to 30 mins. Drain the rice and set aside.
- Heat butter in a pot and melt it.
- Add all the whole spices and saute on a low flame until fragrant.
- Then add ginger garlic and saute again for 30 to 60 seconds without burning or browning the garlic.
- Next stir in pepper and turmeric.
- Then add drained rice and regulate the flame to high.
- Fry the rice for about 2 mins stirring occasionally. Avoid stirring often as the rice grains will break.
- Pour the stock or coconut milk & add salt. Check the salt and add more if desired.
- Simmer and cover the pot. Cook on a low heat until the rice is fully cooked.
- When done fluff up the turmeric rice with a fork and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with a curry, dal or a raita.
Instant Pot Turmeric Rice
- Press saute button and add butter to the steel insert of the instant pot.
- When the butter melts, add all the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds.
- Saute ginger, garlic, turmeric and pepper for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Then add the drained rice & fry for a minute.
- Pour 1 ¾ cup + 2 tbsps stock or coconut milk along with salt. Stir and check salt.
- Press cancel button & secure the instant pot with the lid. Position the steam release handle to sealing.
- Press pressure cook button (manual in older Ips) & set the timer to 5 minutes.
- When the instant pot beeps, press cancel and let the pressure release naturally 10 mins.
- Fluff up the turmeric rice and garnish with coriander leaves.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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