Yogurt Rice, an Easy, Healthy Indian Comfort Food

Although my husband Murthy and I are both Indian, I come from Bengal and he from the state of Andhra Pradesh, and our cuisines are different in many ways. Marriage to him, in fact, has made me realize how diverse the culture of India is, a fact that I’ve tried to explore in novels such as One Amazing Thing and Oleander Girl.

Over the years, I’ve learned to cook several of the comfort dishes that put a smile on Murthy’s face. Today I made yogurt (curd) rice, South Indian style.


Friends who saw the photo I posted on my Facebook page wanted the recipe, so here it is.

As with most of my cooking, it’s simple and quick. (Life is just too short--I'm prepared to spend only so much of it cooking!) I use leftover rice, but you can also make fresh rice and spread it out to cool. If you want to experiment, you can use brown rice or quinoa (but Murthy, who is a purist in such matters, strongly objects to such substitutions!)

Preparation time: 20 minutes.


1 cup cooked rice, cooled

1 cup yogurt, or a yogurt-buttermilk mix

1 T vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Frying spices: 1 tsp black mustard seed, 1 tsp cumin seed (optional), 2 whole red chilies, 1 tsp split urad dal (black lentil), 10-15 fresh or dried curry leaves. (I like lots of curry leaves--you might want less than this).

1 inch chopped ginger, 1/2 chopped green chili (optional)


1. Mix the rice and yogurt together in a big bowl. If you want the consistency softer, add more yogurt or buttermilk.

2. Add the chopped ginger and chilies into the rice mix. Mix in well.

3. In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seed. When it crackles, add the cumin seed and urad dal. As they brown, add the red chilies and curry leaf. Take off the fire once the chilies turn dark. Pour onto the rice mixture and stir well. If you like, you can cover and cool it for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

Note: Some people like to add chopped coriander leaf (cilantro). Some people like to add chopped cucumber, chopped green mango or chopped grapes. I sometimes mix in a little lemon juice to add a tang.

Enjoy—and write to me about some of your favorite comfort foods.