Transport your taste buds to the vibrant flavours of South Africa with our Turmeric Rice recipe, also known as South African Yellow Rice. This aromatic and visually striking dish combines fragrant basmati rice with the warm golden hue of turmeric, infusing each grain with an earthy flavour and a pop of colour. Not only does turmeric lend its distinctive taste, but it also brings a host of health benefits, making this recipe a true winner. With just a handful of ingredients, this versatile side dish is a blank canvas, inviting you to unleash your creativity by adding your favourite extras.
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Why You Should Try Turmeric Rice
- Versatile: easy side dish to serve with almost any main dish imaginable. The flavour of turmeric goes well with recipes from Indian cuisine (think Tandoori Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala), South African Dishes (like Bobotie) and European-style poultry and fish dishes (like Panko Crusted Fish).
- Budget-Friendly: cheap and basic ingredients only in this yellow turmeric rice.
- Very Easy To Make: an easy rice recipe that anyone can make – no cooking experience needed!
- Healthier: turmeric boasts a bunch of medicinal properties, making it not only flavoursome and also a healthier side dish.
- Just A Handful of Ingredients!
- Appealing Vibrant Color looks absolutely gorgeous on a plate.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric, scientifically known as Curcuma longa, is a vibrant and aromatic spice. It has been used for centuries in various cuisines and traditional medicine. It is a member of the ginger family and is native to South Asia, particularly India and Indonesia.
The root of the turmeric plant is where the spice is derived from. While the root resembles ginger in appearance, it has a distinct bright orange colour, thanks to its active compound called curcumin.
Curcumin is the main bioactive component in turmeric, responsible for its characteristic colour and numerous health benefits. It is a potent antioxidant and exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory properties (amongst other health benefits of turmeric), which have garnered considerable attention from researchers and health enthusiasts alike. Turmeric has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for its potential to alleviate various ailments and promote overall well-being.
In addition to its health benefits, turmeric is widely celebrated for its warm, earthy flavour profile. It offers a unique combination of mild bitterness, subtle spiciness, and a hint of ginger-like aroma. The addition of turmeric to dishes not only enhances the flavour but also imparts a vibrant yellow hue, adding visual appeal to culinary creations. It is a versatile spice that complements a wide range of cuisines, including Indian, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and beyond.
Turmeric is available in various forms, including fresh turmeric root and turmeric powder. While fresh turmeric root provides a more intense and pungent flavour, ground dried turmeric offers convenience and ease of use, making it a popular choice in many kitchens. Its distinct flavour and health benefits make it a beloved ingredient in curries, stews, soups, rice dishes, smoothies, and even beverages like golden milk.
Yellow Rice From Around The World
Turmeric rice, also known as South African Yellow Rice, is a delightful dish that brings vibrant colour and aromatic flavours to the table. While it is often associated with South African cuisine, it’s important to note that turmeric rice is not unique to this region alone.
In fact, variations of this aromatic rice dish can be found in various Asian countries, where it is equally cherished and enjoyed. From India to Southeast Asia, turmeric rice has become one of the most popular side dishes in many households, thanks to its versatility and rich taste.
In Indian cooking, turmeric rice is often referred to as ‘Indian Yellow Rice’ and is a staple accompaniment to a wide range of curries, grilled meats, and vegetable dishes.
- butter: Can be replaced with olive oil.
- rice: It is a key ingredient in this recipe, so some consideration must be given to choosing the right type of rice. We always use white rice in this recipe, as it absorbs the colour much better than brown rice. Choose a long-grain rice variety, like basmati or jasmine rice. Golden rice will work here too.
- turmeric: Ground turmeric powder.
- curry powder: Optional, but recommended for an extra layer of flavour. We used medium curry powder for a bit of heat.
- stock: Vegetable stock or broth as well as chicken stock or broth will work in this recipe.
- raisins or dried apricots: Optional. They can be replaced with other dried fruit, like sultanas (golden raisins), or currents.
Variations and Additions
Whilst we like an easy way of cooking this South African Yellow Rice in a large pot with a matching lid, you may cook your rice in a rice cooker or an instant pot too. Experiment with it and find your own preferred method. What is more, whilst we keep it simple to make this side dish as versatile as possible, there are many extra flavours that you can add to this easy rice dish. We discuss some of the popular additions below.
- bay leaf: add a bay leaf alongside rice and stock.
- lemon juice: once the rice is cooked, squeeze a lemon wedge all over!
- garlic powder: mix in a little garlic powder for an extra savoury flavour.
- sautéed onions: stir the onions through the rice.
- pine nuts: pine nuts make an excellent garnish, adding a buttery crunch to this easy turmeric rice recipe.
- fresh herbs: garnish the rice with fresh herbs, like coriander (cilantro) or parsley.
An important step in cooking rice is rinsing uncooked rice under cold water to remove excess starch. Make sure to run plenty of water through the rice, as it will ensure that the grains of rice don’t stick together after cooking.
Melt the butter in a pan with a matching lid. Add rinsed rice, and stir to coat the rice grains in butter. Then add the turmeric, optional curry powder and raisins. If you’re using a stock cube, you can crumble it into the rice.
Alternatively, heat your stock, or dissolve a stock in boiling water. Pour the stock over the rice and spices. Mix well, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low (higher heat will make your rice burn on the bottom).
Cook the rice for 15-20 minutes (however, the cooking time will highly depend on the type of rice you’re using, the pan and the heat you’re cooking on). Check your rice after 15 minutes. The water should be fully absorbed and the rice should be cooked al dente.
Fluff up your rice with a fork to separate the rice grains. Garnish the rice with fresh herbs or dried fruit.
Tips For Best Results
- Choose the right rice: Opt for long-grain rice, such as basmati or jasmine, as they have a fluffy texture and can absorb flavours well, resulting in more delicious yellow rice.
- Balance the turmeric: While turmeric is the star spice in yellow rice, be cautious not to add too much as it can overpower the dish. Start with a moderate amount and adjust according to your taste preferences.
- Choose high-quality vegetable or chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of a stock cube for maximum flavour without the extra sodium.
- Avoid excessive water: Adding too much water can lead to mushy rice. To prevent this, measure the water accurately and resist the temptation to add more during the cooking process. Remember, you can always add more water if necessary, but removing excess water is more challenging.
Storage and Reheating
Storing and reheating rice is a matter to be taken seriously. It is a well-known fact that you can get food poisoning from eating reheated rice. However, this typically happens because the leftover rice has not been stored correctly before reheating. To make sure your leftover turmeric rice can be consumed safely, follow these steps:
- For best results, serve the rice immediately after cooking.
- If immediate serving is not possible, cool the rice as quickly as you can, preferably within an hour.
- Store the rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours before reheating.
- You may reheat the rice in a microwave or on the stove with some melted butter.
- When reheating rice, ensure it is steaming hot all the way through before consuming it.
What To Serve Turmeric Rice With?
South African Yellow ice is a perfect side dish to Bobotie – the national dish of South Africa. However, we highly recommend serving this delicious rice with recipes beyond South African cuisine. Make a delicious falafel bowl with Turmeric Rice, lots of veggies, hummus and chickpea patties or use it in our Spinach Halloumi Rice Bowl. Alternatively, serve Turmeric Rice alongside:
Other Rice Side Dishes
Turmeric Rice (South African Yellow Rice)
- Pan With a Matching Lid
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 160 g basmati rice or other long-grain rice
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon curry powder optional
- 400 ml vegetable stock hot
- 30 g sultanas or raisin optional
- Rinse uncooked rice under cold water to remove excess starch.
- Melt the butter in a pan with a matching lid. Add rinsed rice, and stir to coat the rice grains in butter.
- Add the turmeric, optional curry powder and raisins.
- If you're using a stock cube, you can crumble it into the rice. Alternatively, heat your stock, or dissolve a stock in boiling water. Pour the stock over the rice and spices.
- Mix well, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low (higher heat will make your rice burn on the bottom).
- Cook the rice for 15-20 minutes (however, the cooking time will highly depend on the type of rice you're using, the pan and the heat you're cooking on). Check your rice after 15 minutes. The water should be fully absorbed and the rice should be cooked al dente.
- Fluff up your rice with a fork to separate the rice grains and serve immediately.