Traveler’s Yogurt Rice

Summer travel creates an excess of fire and movement in our bodies. Unfortunately, most “travel” foods pile on more of the same. That’s why Divya loves this recipe—it’s cooling, substantial and easy to digest.

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Photo Credit: Katerina Martin

When Vaidya R. K. Mishra taught me this recipe in person, he recalled a time when he traveled through South India for a couple of days and this moist yogurt rice did not spoil without refrigeration! I was quite surprised and even doubtful, but it turns out that the friendly bacteria in the yogurt protects the rice from spoiling. 

The qualities of this dish make it perfect for travel. Both yogurt and rice are heavy foods, and the heating effect of yogurt balances the cooling effect of rice. Spices are added to support digestion. You may also enjoy this dish anytime at home, especially when you have Airy or Fiery digestion.

Cook: 35 minutes (including cooling time)
Makes 2 travel portions | Gluten free

  • ½ cup white basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ghee
  • ½ teaspoon yellow split mung dal (dry, do not wash it)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small green Thai chile, seeded and minced (omit if you have an acidic stomach)
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1 ½ cups plain whole yogurt (ideally homemade)

Wash the rice well and soak it for 10 minutes; drain through a strainer.

In a 1-quart saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add ½ teaspoon salt and the drained rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for 12 minutes, or until the grains are soft. Using a large fork, fluff the cooked rice and let it cool to room temperature by spreading it on a tray or plate.

Heat a 10- to 12-inch pan over low heat and dry-toast the fenugreek seeds until they darken from tan to light brown in color. Add the ghee and continue toasting fenugreek seeds until they turn darker brown, about 10 seconds (toasting in this way lessens the bitterness of the fenugreek). Add the mung dal and cumin and toast for 5 seconds, then add the chile and curry leaves and cook for another 15 seconds.

Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the cooked rice, increase the heat to medium-low, and cook, shaking and stirring gently but frequently with a metal spoon until the rice becomes a little dryer, less sticky, and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes.

Cool the rice to room temperature, add the yogurt, and stir well. You might feel tempted to cheer up this creamy white dish with green herbs, but if you are using it as travel food, please resist the temptation because fresh herbs will cause the rice to spoil faster.

FOR FIERY DIGESTION: Omit the chile.
FOR EARTHY DIGESTION: Add 1 or 2 more chiles

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