Yellow Rice

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Rice colored yellow with turmeric is served everywhere rice is served. The simplest way is just to add a little turmeric to the cooking water and leave it at that. This Balinese version also includes the mild, aromatic flavors of lemongrass, coconut, and, if obtainable, pandan leaves Basmati rice is best rinsed and soaked before cooking. This is not necessary if you are using polished or parboiled rice.

Serves4 as a side dish



Recipe CourseSide Dish, Starch

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Lactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian


Taste and TextureSpiced


  • 1 ½ cups long-grain rice, such as basmati
  • 1 tablespoon on, preferably palm oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut cream or coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, green parts removed, bruised
  • 1 pandan leaf, bruised (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons powdered turmeric


  1. If using basmati rice, rinse it in a fine-holed colander or sieve until the water runs clear. Place in a pot, cover with water by at least 2 inches, and let soak for 20 to 40 minutes. Drain.

  2. Bring a generous amount of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice, bring back to a boil, and boil, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rice is almost cooked through but still somewhat hard in the middle. (The exact time depends on how long the rice has been soaked and on the hardness of the rice.)

  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat, Sauté the shallots and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the coconut cream, lemongrass, the pandan leaf (if using), and the turmeric and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Drain the rice well and return it to the pot. Turn the heat to very low, add the coconut mixture, and mix well. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and soft.

  5. If you would like the rice to be rather on the dry side. Place a folded kitchen towel under the lid and leave to soak up moisture for 5 minutes before serving.


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