In South India, Curd Rice is true comfort food. As a dish, it unities the whole half of the country! Incredibly simple in essence, it is made by first mixing fresh yoghurt and milk with rice. Next, it’s tempered with a tantalising mix of crunchy urad dal, sharp spiciness of mustard seeds, sweet ginger, tangy fresh curry leaves and pungent heat of dried red chillis. The whole thing is topped with bursts of flavour from pomegranate arils and zesty fresh coriander.
Curd Rice goes by many names – Dahi Bhaat in Marathi, Mosaranna in Kannada, Daddojanam in Telugu, Thayir Saadam in Tamil, or Yoghurt Rice in English. Although the recipes vary a little by state and depending on the family, they all have common characteristics of the similar ingredients and methods.
Curd Rice is known for being healthy and great for digestion – but most importantly, it’s really tasty.
Can you make Curd Rice Vegan?
Of course, Curd Rice is made with Yoghurt (Curd) as the predominant taste and ingredient – which makes it unsuitable for a Vegan diet. However, with so many Vegan products available nowadays there are plenty of options for making a truly scrumptious and authentic Vegan version of Curd Rice which is not too different from the traditional one!
The first option is to use Soy Milk and Soy Yoghurt – both of which have a fairly neutral flavour and creamy consistency. You can also use homemade Peanut Curd (which is very popular in India), or Coconut Yoghurt mixed with Soy Milk.
Alternatively, you can blend silken tofu, lemon juice, salt and soy milk together to make a smooth, creamy liquid. Add this to the rice and then temper as usual.
Is Curd Rice Gluten Free, Nut Free, and Soy Free?
Curd Rice is naturally Vegetarian, Nut Free and Soy Free.
To make Curd Rice Gluten Free, simply omit Hing (Asafoetida) from the recipe as most commercial brands contain Gluten. Alternatively, buy Gluten Free Asafoetida.
Also, do note that adapting the recipe to be Vegan will most likely mean using Soy.
Tips to make the best Curd Rice
- Use a short grain rice. Sona Masoori or Ponni rice will work best here. Don’t be tempted to use a long grain rice like Basmati.
- Use leftover rice. This recipe is a great dish to make with leftover rice. The rice needs to be cool before you add the yoghurt and milk, so using leftover rice is a great way to achieve this.
- Use homemade Yoghurt. In India, homemade curd (yoghurt) is usually used to make Curd Rice. The fresh taste will really elevate the flavour of the dish. It’s quite simple – add a live starter (buy live yoghurt, or use a batch of homemade yoghurt from before) in a curd pot. Then boil milk, leave it to cool until it feels hot but not burning, and then pour over the yoghurt starter. Stir well, cover the pot and leave undisturbed overnight. The next morning you’ll have your very own batch of fresh yoghurt.
- Make sure the rice is cool. It’s really important that you cool the rice before adding the yoghurt and milk.
- Use a flavoursome oil for tempering. Instead of using Vegetable Oil or Sunflower Oil, use a flavoured oil for maximum taste. My favourite option is Groundnut (Peanut) Oil, but Gingelly Oil (Sesame Oil) or Coconut Oil will also work.
- Serve chilled! Although you can eat Curd Rice right after adding tempering, it tastes best when it’s been chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours.
How to Store Curd Rice
Curd Rice will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, provided that it is stored in an air tight container. It is not suitable for freezing.
Variations for Curd Rice:
- Add Vegetables: Add grated or finely chopped Vegetables to the recipe like Carrots, Beetroot, Onion, Cucumber or Bell Peppers (Capsicum). This makes it lovely and colourful – plus nutritious.
- Make it creamier: Some people like to add things to their Curd Rice to make it extra creamy. Although I prefer using just Yoghurt and Milk, you can also choose to add Butter (Makhan) or Cream (Malai) to the rice to add an extra level of indulgence.
- Use a different grain: Although a short or medium grain rice is traditional, why not mix up your Curd Rice by using Poha (Flattened Rice), Quinoa, Cauliflower Rice or Brown Rice instead?
- Add Nuts: For those of you who love nuts, add some nuts at the tempering stage. They’ll add a delicious crunch and you’ll benefit from the extra nutrition too. Cashews or peanuts work well.
- Make it spicy: As well as adding dried red chillis, add freshly chopped green chillis to the tempering to amp up the heat.
This Recipe Is …
- An authentic South Indian comfort food
- Vegetarian, Gluten Free and Nut Free
- Cooling, refreshing, and perfect for summer
- Nutritious and healthy
- Full of good fats and proteins
- Creamy, sweet, sour and a little spicy all at once
- Easily adapted to be Vegan
If you’re interested in more South Indian recipes, why not check out Medu Vada, a savoury ‘doughnut’ made from a lentil batter and spices; Rava Idli, savoury steamed semolina ‘cakes’; Vegetable Sambar, a spicy and sour mix of lentils and vegetables; or Bharli Vangi, baby aubergines stuffed with a peanut masala and cooked in a spicy gravy.
How to serve Curd Rice
Curd Rice is typically served as the last course in a South Indian meal, and always along with Achar (pickles) and crunchy fresh Papad (Poppadom). The pickle adds an extra dimension of sour and spicy notes, while the Papad offers a much needed crisp accompaniment. Topped with fresh Coriander (Cilantro) and Pomegranate Seeds, Curd Rice makes for a healthy, refreshing and satisfying end to a meal.
You can also serve Curd Rice along with dishes like Potato Fry, Karela Fry (Bitter Gourd), Bhindi Masala, Kurkuri Bhindi, Potato Chips (Crisps), and more.
It tastes best cold, served chilled right from the fridge.