Turmeric Rice (Kaha bath)


Cinnamon Tree Organics Turmeric Yellow Rice

As this golden rice cooks, your kitchen will be filled with the fruity-sweet aroma of spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Turmeric rice is how many Sri Lankans celebrate anything from a birthday to a wedding.

A tip for the rice: rinse it thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear, and leave for the excess water to drain away. You can even pat it dry with a clean kitchen towel. This allows the ghee to really coat each grain.

You can use a rice cooker or Instant Pot to make this recipe. Do step 2 -5 with the rice cooker on the 'keep warm' setting or the Instant Pot in the 'saute' setting. After adding the coconut milk, cover and cook the rice per device instructions.

As a kid, I just couldn't stop smiling when the aroma of ghee and spices was wafting through my childhood home as this rice was being made. It meant that soon, my large extended family would be gathered around the dinner table, swapping stories over a delicious meal. To complete your own memory-making meal, serve this turmeric rice with a fiery chicken curry, creamy dhal and a fresh coconut-carrot salad for the perfect combo of sweet and spicy.

Ingredients for turmeric rice

  • 3 cups of white basmati rice
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of lemongrass powder, or 1 fresh stalk, roughly chopped
  • 6 inches of pandan leaf - optional
  • A handful of curry leaves - optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 6-8 cloves
  • 10 cardamom pods, crushed open
  • 1-2 inches Ceylon cinnamon stick, split open by hand
  • 5 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon table salt (or to taste)

Directions for turmeric rice

  1. Rinse rice in a colander under cold running water and leave to drain.
  2. In a pan or wok, add ghee and heat until melted and hot. Add onions and garlic and fry until golden brown.
  3. Add curry leaves, pandan leaf, all the spices including salt and stir fry, about 2 minutes.
  4. Shake out excess water from the rice and add to pan, stirring continuously, until the rice is well coated with ghee and spices.
  5. Add coconut milk and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes. Test for done-ness at 20 minutes. When done, the whole spices will rice to the top.
  6. Turn off heat and leave in pan covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

Chef's tips:

  • You can find pandan leaves in most Asian grocery stores. Check in the freezer section.
  • If you can't find fresh curry leaves, use 1 tablespoon dried, crushed curry leaf.

Did you make this recipe? Please tell us how you liked it and if you made any modifications. Will you make it again?


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