A great way to use up leftover rice, this bright yellow Turmeric Lemon Rice with its sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavour profile is not only easy to make but truly delicious! Enjoy on its own with a dollop of yoghurt or load in a bowl full of delicious veggie things for a light lunch.

Yellow Rice - A Staple Lunchbox Item From My Childhood

Indian mums like most mums from various ethnicities are known for stretching the proverbial buck. They are champions of a sustainable style of cooking. Not a single thing goes to waste in the kitchen. Giving leftovers a fabulous new life in the form of a delicious new dish is something they excel at. My mum did and I like to think, I have learned a thing or two from watching her do it. One of my mum's favourite things to make with leftover Basmati rice was - Yellow Rice.

We loved Yellow Rice! It was basically a stir-fry of caramelised onion, curry leaves, turmeric, lemon and leftover rice. A dash of sugar and chilli added the sweet and spicy notes that we loved. It was like eating Indian fried rice. And it was a regular fixture in my school lunchbox. I really enjoyed eating it with raita or a chopped salad like this one.


The Romance Of Curry Leaves And Yellow Rice

Curry leaves are vital to this dish. They have a lemony fresh herbaceous scent and are deeply aromatic. To this day, the smell of curry leaves and onion frying in some ghee takes me back to my mum's kitchen. The leaves really make this dish, although they can be hard to find. I grow three curry leaf trees in my garden. One is in a pot and two are in the ground. Although they aren't big at all, they produce enough leaves and more for my cooking all year round. They freeze really well too. So if you can find a big bunch, make sure you freeze it.

Always use cold and cooked basmati rice to make this dish. I often use a potato masher to break up the cold rice in the pan as it cooks. This makes it easier to mix with all the spices. If the rice mixture feels too dry, add a tablespoon of water to allow for easy mixing. The Turmeric Lemon Rice keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days, 3 if your rice was cooked on the same day as making the yellow rice.




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Turmeric Lemon Yellow Rice - Cook Republic


5 from 1 vote
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Author: Sneh
Course // Dinner, Light Meal, Side Dish
Cuisine // Gluten Free, Indian, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 tablespoons ghee/olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 14 curry leaves
  • 1 long green cayenne chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) green peas, frozen or fresh
  • 3 cups (450 g) cooked basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 3 teaspoon raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, to serve


  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan on medium. Add cumin seeds, onion, curry leaves and chilli. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, tossing constantly until onion has softened and is starting to caramelize.
  • Add green peas, mix and cook for a minute.
  • Add rice, salt, sugar, turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder and lemon juice. Mix well. Use a flat wooden spatula or potato masher to break up the rice in the pan. If the mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water to make it easier to mix and toss. Cook for a couple of minutes until the rice is warmed throughout.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with coriander and serve hot.


Use cold, cooked, leftover basmati rice for the recipe.
Cooked yellow rice will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.
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