Fragrant Yellow Rice

You guys, I feel really bad. I gave you a recipe for spiced lentils and promised to give you the recipe for yellow rice to go with it, and some of you* went out and immediately made the lentils. Without the yellow rice. You need the yellow rice.

So here it is, too late for yesterday’s dinner, but hopefully you liked it enough to try to again. And I’m sorry for depriving you earlier.

This rice recipe originally came from an Indian cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey that I bought at a thrift store many years ago. I think I picked it quite randomly, but it it so good, I’ve made it at least once a month ever since. Though the recipe is Indian, the rice also goes well with Mexican-style food, so I sometimes top it with cumin-spiced black beans and salsa, or put it in burritos.

To make it even more international, I make it with Thai jasmine rice, since that is the white rice I always happen to have on hand. I’ve thought about trying it with brown rice, but haven’t yet gotten around to it. With white rice, it takes all of 20 minutes to make, the rice bubbling in a pot with a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, a bay leaf and some bright yellow turmeric. After steaming, a little butter gets stirred in — you can use olive oil to make it vegan, but I strongly encourage the use of butter if possible — and you have a fragrant pot of bright yellow rice that is so much more than just plain rice.

Now go make some lentils and yellow rice already.


* At least three of you. I think that officially makes mujadarah the most popular recipe on this site. I knew it was special.

Fragrant Yellow Rice

Yield: 2-4 servings

{ Ingredients }

2 cups jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

{ Directions }

Rinse the rice 2 or 3 times and drain. Add the rice, water, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and salt to a medium size pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves. Add butter or oil and stir.

• If you want to substitute another type of rice (basmati, brown, etc.), increase the amount of water and cooking time according to the package directions.



  1. #
    marah — August 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

    My dad bought me madhur jaffrey’s world of the east vegetarian cooking when I left for college and I’m obsessed. Although it was totally one of those gifts that took me years to appreciate. Thanks for both of these awesome recipes!!!

  2. #
    Karen — January 29, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    This recipe says to cook 2 chips of rice with 2 cups of water. Is that a typo or is there something I’m missing?

    • Anjali — January 29th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      No, it’s not a typo — I prefer the more distinct texture of rice cooked with a 1:1 ratio of water. Many American rice recipes call for 2:1 water to rice ratio, but I find this too mushy for my tastes. Give this recipe a try as written — you may find a new favorite style of rice!

  3. #
    Karen — January 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Chips should have read cups. Sorry

  4. #
    Karen — January 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the feedback! I tried making the rice with the 1:1 ratio, but it was too crunchy for my taste. The flavor of this rice paired with the lentil dish was amazing!! Given the flavor palate, I think I might be able to substitute brown rice in next time for an even healthier meal. Thanks so much for posting!

  5. #
    Sarah — June 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Did ur rice really only cook for 10 min?!

  6. #
    Tracy Zanitsch — March 9, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Is there a way to make this in a “rice cooker”?

    • Anjali — March 13th, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Yes, just prepare the rice as you normally would, placing the seasonings in the cooker with the rice and water.

  7. #
    vanessa — May 22, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    do you think subbing in ground cinnamon would work? if so, how much would you try? thanks!

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  9. #
    Eddy "The Smooch" Giadeliano — August 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Wow. I made it in my rice cooker and far exceeded expectations. Substituted ground cinnamon and added cardamom pods. Absolutely fantastic! And it smells great cooking.

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