Padma Lakshmi’s Yogurt Rice

July 10, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

There is comfort in knowing that as long as you keep yogurt, rice, and spices on hand, you can always feed yourself and your family dinner. The recipe is pictured here with Padma Lakshmi's Green Mango Curry. If you don't have the spices on hand, try a local spice shop or Indian grocery, or order them from Kalustyan’s, a beloved New York institution and one of author & Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’s favorite stores), but it’s also okay to work with what you have. If you can't find urad dal, an Indian white gram lentil, for example, Lakshmi recommends frying cashews for a similar nutty crunch. Adapted slightly from Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir (Ecco, 2016). To read the full story, head here. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Padma Lakshmi’s Yogurt Rice
  • 5 cups cooked Basmati rice
  • 4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups peeled and diced English cucumbers (in spring or summer), or 2 cups fresh pomegranate seeds (in fall or winter)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons white gram lentils (urad dal, found at Indian grocery stores,or chopped cashews are a good substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder (found at Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 to 2 medium green chiles (preferably serrano) with seeds, diced, or more to taste
  • 12 medium curry leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Cilantro leaves or fresh curry leaves for garnish (optional)
  • To serve, mango or lime pickle or Padma's fresh green mango curry (as pictured and linked in the note above)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the rice, yogurt, and salt, kneading them together with your hands. Then stir in the cucumber (in spring or summer) or the pomegranate seeds (in fall or winter). Set aside.
  2. In a small saute pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. After a few minutes, when the oil is hot and shimmering, add in the lentils. When they’re just beginning to turn golden (after about 3 minutes), add in the mustard seeds and asafoetida powder. Stir briefly. You will hear a popping sound when the mustard seeds begin to cook.
  3. After just a minute, when the popping becomes more frequent, add in the chilies and curry leaves. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Pour the lentil-mustard oil over the rice mixture and stir well with a spoon.
  5. This dish should be served at room temperature, or cold, and it’s great for a summer lunch or dinner. If you’re making it ahead, just stir in a bit of water to loosen it up before serving; it should have a porridge or oatmeal-like consistency.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Darbystone
  • tyrobinson
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
  • Panfusine
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

13 Reviews

Darbystone February 13, 2021
The white gram lentils DEFINITELY needed to be cooked first. I should have read the comments before adding to the rice as the video instructed. They did not deliver a healthy crunch, even when cooked to a golden brown, instead they were tooth-breaking. With that minor change, it could be tasty.
JV April 8, 2021
Once they soak in the rice overnight they are perfectly softened. No need to cook first, just enable it a day in advance
JV April 8, 2021

**make it
erunuevo October 2, 2020
Am I missing the end of the recipe? It says how to made the tadka but what next? Mix it all together (with rice and yogurt)? Let it rest at all to marry?
JV April 8, 2021
Yes this is missing a step. Her website has the full instructions. I also find it needs to sit overnight for the urad daal to soften.
tyrobinson January 1, 2019
Used this as an excuse to try making yogurt in an instant pot as I was correct to assume I would be exclusively using the product for a savory preparation. Enjoyed the dish on the hottest day of the past summer and was blown away by how satisfying it was! The crispy lentil topping was to me an essential component but I could see how it would be unpleasantly crunchy for some.
Joyce August 4, 2018
I also followed the recipe/video exactly and the urad dal as Kim mentioned were very crunchy, as in too crunchy. I checked the net and see that every recipe for urad dal includes water and cooking them first. BTW I added mango chutney and tamarind paste - great recipe, otherwise!
Seema R. July 26, 2018
One of our favourite ways of eating 'curd rice' is as an accompaniment to a spicy, meaty, main course like a pork vindaloo, Kerala style fried beef with coconut or Kerala style fried chicken. Add in some papad for the crunch and yummy, yummy a lazy weekend lunch sorted. (Runs to kitchen to check pantry) Lol
Kim July 18, 2018
Are the lentils supposed to be cooked? Mine were hard like pebbles in the final dish.
Kristen M. July 18, 2018
I'm sorry to hear this. No, they're not pre-cooked—they should get pleasantly crunchy in the oil, but shouldn't be hard like pebbles. Were they cooked till golden brown like in the video? If they stay somewhat raw, they can be tougher to bite.
Paula A. July 11, 2018
Is there a good veggie substitute for the cucumbers? I can't digest them ( incredibly).
Kristen M. July 11, 2018
Sure, really any vegetable you like—Padma sometimes grates carrot into hers or sizzles green bell pepper with the spices. And when you can find them, pomegranate seeds are perfect.
Panfusine July 12, 2018
sweet peppers (the tiny multi colored ones) - deseeded & diced fine work well too