Scallion Curd Rice – Recipe

Scallion Curd Rice
Scallion Curd Rice

Curd rice is an Indian dish of basmati rice flavored with tangy yogurt, often seasoned with chilis, mustard seeds and curry leaves or cilantro. It is typically served at the end of multi-course South Indian meals, but in my context I'm happy to have it as a side dish with some dal, curry and Indian pickles, or even just as a light meal on its own, often using leftover rice.

In fact, that is exactly how today's version came about. I had some leftover short-grain brown rice, not basmati at all. Still, I thought of curd rice but decided to flavor it differently, with a whole lot of scallions (green onions), which I love. It must have been pretty good, I had to arm-wrestle my better half for the last bite!

If you do this, or anything, really, with leftover rice that has been refrigerated, it is important to reheat it even if you want ultimately to eat it at room temperature. When rice is refrigerated, the starch goes retrograde, meaning it becomes crystalline and hard and expels water. This is exactly the same process that happens as bread goes stale. Simply reheating to around 200 degrees causes those crystals to soften back up. 

Scallion Curd Rice
Vegetarian and gluten-free
Serves 4

  • 3 tablespoons butter, ghee, or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons black mustard seeds (don't substitute yellow/brown mustard seeds)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature (about 1 3/4 cups uncooked, cooked in whatever way you prefer. I use a rice cooker.)
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
  1. In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. When it is starting to shimmer, add the mustard seed and cook for about 10 seconds. Stir in the ginger and cayenne pepper and continue to stir and cook for another 20 seconds. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a medium bowl.
  2. To the same bowl, add 1 cup yogurt, salt, and several generous grinds of pepper, and whisk thoroughly. Fold in the rice and then the scallions, reserving some for garnish. Taste and adjust seasoning. Adding more yogurt, salt or cayenne if needed.
  3. Garnish with the reserved scallions and serve.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, October 10th, 2011 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Side Dishes.

13 Responses to “Scallion Curd Rice – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    October 10, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Yum! What a scrumptious looking rice recipe.

  2. Reply
    October 10, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    I did not read past the first line. Curd rice is not made with Basmati rice.

  3. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 10, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Well, you are welcome to your opinion, but lots of people make curd rice with basmati rice. Here are a few examples:
    link to bit.lylink to, and link to

  4. Reply
    October 10, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    This has been one of my favorite comfort foods since my parents started me on solids. It’s dynamite with some lime pickle.

  5. Reply
    October 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    WoW! Michael, Curd rice is something that I can’t do without in my daily meals.. Scallion is an interesting seasoning for Curd rice. Sometimes, when we are too used to eating food a certain way, it is hard to think of it out of the box!
    BTW, curd rice is hardly ever made with Basmati rice 🙂 Short grain rice which you have used by chance is the typical rice of choice for Curd rice in South India… Turning leftover rice to Curd rice is a quite common practice though 🙂

  6. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Thanks, Radhika! Yeah, I know the scallion is a bit of a departure, I appreciate that you are willing to even contemplate it. I find that many times folks (myself included) get so stuck in a certain way of making a dish they grew up with that it can be very upsetting to think of changing it! And thanks for the info about what type of rice is used, which confirms what curdriceaurora wrote above, though there seem to be counterexamples as well. Just goes to show you how specific local variations can be. You should see how many types of charoset we have to have at my family's Passover celebration :).

  7. Reply
    October 11, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    wow. lots of strong opinions on rice grain length here. Everyone – unwad your undies! go take a yoga class or something. We would eat this with Basmati rice, but I personally would eat this with whatever we have on hand. i love attention to simple dishes. they often go unnoticed or appreciated.

  8. Reply
    October 12, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    It’s always nice to see a new way to eat what we all love, rice.

  9. Reply
    swarna mani
    October 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Nice variation Michael.
    Any kind of rice is ok for curd rice, all it needs is starchy rice.You can even prepare this with well cooked barley.
    Sometimes rice is cooked withe extra water so it can be mashed…so that grains are not clearly visible.

    I have tried adding grated carrots or chopped cucumbers or green mango. But scallions are a new variation. Will try soon.

  10. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Thanks, Swarna! I've seen pictures of the variations with the rice cooked until broken (almost like a Chinese congee I guess?) but I've never tried it as far as I remember. I might have had it on my one evening in Bangalore but that meal was so incredible I can't even remember all of the components. Do you have a recipe for that version?

  11. Reply
    swarna mani
    October 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm #


    Take normal long grain rice.(It has worked best for me)

    For 1 cup rice add 2.5 cups water and cook. If pressure cooker available go for it.
    After rice is cooked and when hot add about 1/2 cup milk and desired salt . Take a potato masher and mash till you get the desired consistency.
    Add about 2 cups yogurt mix well.

    In a separate pan heat 1 spoon oil, add 1/2 spoon mustard, 1/2 spoon urad dal (optional), a pinch of asoftida or hing.

    When mustard splutters add it to rice.
    If consistency is thick add more yogurt or( if sour taste is ur liking) or milk(if less sour is your liking) to get desired consistency.

    Mix-in Variations:
    You can add finely chopped green chilles/jalapenos for xtra zing. Some chopped cilantro/curry leaves if you like.
    You can add one or all of chopped cucumber , grated carrots( say 1/4 cup each for colorfulness). Chopped green mango if you can get it(just scant 2 table spoon).

    (3) You can serve it topped with pomegranate fruit bits

    (4)You can mix in un-roasted cashews


    Love your blog.

    Waiting for your book.

  12. Reply
    October 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    ah ghee…
    i’m always looking for ghee recipes
    one of those jars lasts quite awhile
    and i love to hear mustard seeds pop
    thank you

  13. Reply
    August 17, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Nice variation on the theme. Two things however: if you had a choice you would not use Basmati; if you had no choice however, you would use anything on hand. If you do use Basmati you would take care to mash it well. Second and this is more a common practice or technique: the tempered seasoning goes on top of the curd rice and not vice versa. 🙂 Otherwise, great work for a non-native; keep it up!

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