Crispy Buttered Turmeric Rice Recipe

Turmeric is an Indian spice that adds a uniquely warm, savory taste to any meal. The warm, peppery taste of turmeric complements many different recipes but, because of the strength of the spice, it can also turn a simple rice meal into a complex experience for the taste buds. It's also a powerful little spice nutritionally speaking, with health benefits that can include inflammation-fighting aspects and relief from arthritis.

Chef and recipe developer Nathaniel Lee notes that, for his recipe for crispy buttered turmeric rice, it's best served alongside a main course. "Turmeric rice here is not a meal in itself, but instead is normally served with grilled meats, vegetables, [or] paneer," He says. Lee also suggests having it with curries and lentils, adding that it's "not as traditional to eat flavored rice with gravy dishes."

This crispy buttered turmeric rice recipe adds a warm flavor to any summer cookout and is versatile enough to turn a simple meal into a special event. Even more, this rice dish is super quick and easy to cook, in part because so much of its complexity and deliciousness come directly from the turmeric. Some spices can go a long way, after all, and turmeric is definitely one of them. 

Gather your ingredients and prep the rice

To start, get all of your ingredients pre-measured and set out before you begin cooking, a smart habit to cultivate that's often known as mise en place. Those ingredients include butter, 1 onion, basmati rice, turmeric, curry powder or garam masala, water, and slivered almonds for serving.

Lee notes that this recipe works best with basmati rice. This fragrant variation of white rice is higher in carbs and calories than regular white rice, but it's also higher in protein. Since basmati is one of the rice varieties most often encountered in traditional Indian cuisine, it goes perfectly with the flavor of turmeric. 

Be sure to take a couple of minutes and prepare the rice by rinsing it, which will help to remove some of the extra starch on the rice grains' surface and any lingering debris. Simply put the rice into a strainer and run cold water over it to wash the grains thoroughly. Now you're done prepping the rice and ready to move on to the pan.

Sauté the onions and rice

Now, it's time to melt the butter in a 12-inch pan on medium-high heat, all in order to lay down a good and highly flavorful base in which to fry the rice. Dice the onion into smaller pieces and sauté those bits in the butter for about 10 minutes, until they're browned on the edges and highly fragrant. 

Then pour the rinsed rice from the strainer and into the onion and butter sauté mix. Give everything a good stir to make sure that all the ingredients are incorporated and continue cooking for 5 more minutes, during which time you'll be lightly toasting the uncooked rice grains. Keep stirring continuously to make sure that nothing burns or sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Spice up the rice mixture with some garam masala

After cooking the rice for 5 minutes, this is where the real magic begins to happen. That is, you're about to add the turmeric. Turmeric gives the rice a distinctive flavor and hue that makes it unique and striking. 

At this point, you'll also add the garam masala to the rice mixture. This spice is often categorized as a "warming spice" and can include anywhere from 6 to 32 different individual spices in the blend, though it typically includes black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and coriander in its lineup. If you don't have garam masala handy or can't find it at the store, you may also use curry powder, another widely-defined spice blend that also includes similar warming flavors. to continue expanding the flavor profile.

Add water and finish cooking

Now that the aromatics are cooking and the spices have been added, add the water to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the rice is boiling, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, where the pan will sit for 20 minutes. 

When done, the rice should definitely be softer than uncooked rice but will still have that crispy, fried rice texture you know and love from other dishes. Once the rice is cooked to this standard, remove the pan from heat. Put it on a plate or in a bowl and top it with slivered almonds. Alternatively, you could also use fried onions as a garnish, which Lee notes is a "traditional topping." 

While you're certainly welcome to eat this crispy buttered turmeric fried rice on its own, it's more often seen as a sidekick to a larger meal. Your imagination is the only limit here, really, but Lee suggests lentil-based dishes or curries — like chicken curry or, for vegetarian and vegan diners, chickpea curry — as great complements to this rice side.

Crispy Buttered Turmeric Rice Recipe
5 from 45 ratings
This crispy buttered turmeric rice recipe adds a warm flavor to any summer cookout and is versatile enough to turn a simple meal into a special event.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Ingredients for turmeric crispy turmeric
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder OR garam masala
  • 3½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
Optional Ingredients
  • Fried onions
  1. Rinse rice under water.
  2. Melt butter in a pan on medium-high heat. Saute diced onion in butter for 10 minutes.
  3. Add rice and cook for 5 more minutes, then add turmeric and garam masala (or curry powder.)
  4. Add water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with slivered almonds or fried onions.
Calories per Serving 250
Total Fat 5.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.3 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 8.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 46.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.8 g
Total Sugars 1.0 g
Sodium 9.6 mg
Protein 4.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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