Yogurt Rice
45 Min

Yogurt Rice

A staple of South Indian cuisine, particularly during sweltering summers, yogurt rice or curd rice in its simplest form is steamed white rice tossed with plain whole-milk yogurt. It is usually eaten cold at the end of a meal to help aid in digestion and cool the palate after eating spicy, warming foods. In its most glorious form, the yogurt rice combination is tempered with ghee, mustard seeds, red chiles, fresh coconut, curry leaves, herbs, nuts, and dry fruits.


There comes a time every summer when the Texas heat cries out for cooling foods like these — that time is now. This version is more like a rice yogurt salad, flavored with saffron, herbs, celery, and lots of tangy seasonings. Keep it tucked away in your refrigerator for 2 to 3 days; the flavors of saffron will only get more luscious and the yogurt rice will make a delicious snack or a side dish.

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Cook Time

45 Minutes



Step 1
Cook the rice with water and saffron and cool slightly. Combine with plain yogurt and salt.
Step 2
In a small frying pan over high heat, warm the oil and add the asafetida, mustard seeds, raw lentils, curry leaves and whole red chiles. The seeds will pop, the lentils will brown (make sure they don’t get too dark or burn) and the curry leaves will sizzle. The whole red chiles should darken slightly but not burn. This whole process takes just a few seconds, immediately after, pour the tempered oil into the yogurt rice mixture.
Step 3
Fold in ginger, celery, coconut, pumpkin seeds, herbs, and lemon. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days or overnight. Serve garnished with herbs and pumpkin seeds.
1 cup white rice
3 to 4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
Generous pinch of saffron
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
Generous pinch of asafetida
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon raw channa dal (lentils)
3 to 4 curry leaf stalks
8 to 10 whole dried chiles
1 tablespoon unpeeled grated ginger
2 celery stalks, finely minced
1/2 cup grated raw coconut
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup chopped herbs (such as cilantro, mint, or basil)
Juice of 1 lemon

Notes & Variations

  • Yogurt rice can be made with plain white jasmine or basmati rice. It can also be made with brown rice — here we have used the South Indian red “rose matta” rice, which takes a little longer to cook due to its husk. The amount of water used to cook — and time — will vary depending on which variety of rice is used.
  • The amount of yogurt will depend on the rice and on the kind of yogurt you use. If using Greek, it may have to be mixed with some water so the rice does not become too sticky. Brown rice will take more yogurt than white rice. Stay away from nonfat or low-fat yogurt; they will just turn the salad watery.
  • Tempering raw lentils in hot oil is a uniquely delicious South Indian technique — use any split lentils you have, yellow, orange or white.
45 Min

Stock Your Pantry

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