500g, cooked white rice

500g plain/Greek yogurt

1 tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp methi/fenugreek seeds

1 tbsp chana/gram dal

2 tbsp peanuts

10 dried red chillies

A few curry leaves

4 green chillies

2.5cm ginger, cut into small pieces

½ tsp sonthi/dry ginger powder

1 tsp crushed black pepper

½ tsp hing/asafotida

½ cup oil


Let the cooked white rice cool down and then mix the yogurt, along with enough salt in the rice. Once the rice, yogurt and salt are mixed properly, put aside.  Put a pan on the stove for seasoning, then add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add peanuts and gram dal. Once they start to change colour, add dry chillies, ginger pieces and curry leaves. When chillies start to change colour, add crushed pepper, dry ginger powder and asafotida, then switch off the stove. If you are using an electric stove switch it off before adding pepper, ginger powder and hing.

Now take off the stove and add seasoning into the yogurt rice immediately. Let it cool down for a couple of minutes, then mix the seasoning to coat all the rice properly. Then cut the green chillies into small pieces, mix into the rice (optional) along with chopped coriander leaves.

It tastes yummy by itself, but it can be eaten with pickles such as mango or lime or with fried potatoes.

The story behind the recipe

This recipe has been handed down in the family for generations. All the women learnt it from their mothers, just like I did. This is not a recipe which only my family makes, but there are some ingredients which everyone does not use, which makes it special.

I didn’t cook much before marriage, but I used to help my mom on special occasions like festivals and other celebrations. Most of our Hindu religious festivals we make this to offer to God. It was always so much fun to help bring the ingredients out and hand them over to mom or add them into the pan myself. We were always so eager to eat the festival food, because waiting for the food until the religious rituals finish makes it tastier than it is. Yogurt rice and tamarind rice are two of my favourite foods of festival times.

This recipe is from Hindu faith, especially from all four states of south India and this is one of the recipes that make everyone’s mouth water. This is offered to the Gods; on most festivals we eat it as the blessing of the God after the rituals finish.

My brothers and I always fight for the leftovers (most of the time there is nothing leftover!). This rice can keep for a couple of days, even in hot summer. So, for festivals which come in summer time, mom makes more then usual so that we can eat it in the evening and the next day too (it tastes better on the next day).  Usually we eat yogurt rice at the end of the meal, which is supposed to cool down the tummy, after eating all that spicy, oily food of the occasion. Yogurt rice is also good for digestion and acidity.

I usually like to add fresh vegetables cut into small pieces like carrot and cucumber; it makes it really tastes nice and makes the stomach cooler in the summer. We can eat it like a snack too.

Coriander and curry leaves stand out very much because of their fragrance. Curry leaves not only makes the rice fragrant, but they become crispy in the oil and tastes yum.  Hing and dry ginger powder also stand out and these are the ones which give that tingy and spicy taste. Without these ingredients yogurt rice will taste like just plain yogurt rice which doesn’t have any seasoning.

In my mom’s garden she has coriander, curry leaves and green chilly plants; sometimes ginger too. My mom loves to grow veggies in her backyard.

- Neelima Paravastu