Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice

This blows instant white rice out of the freaking water.

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice

When I was a kid, 62% of what I ate was white rice with butter and soy sauce. The end.

Okay, 78%.

Carbs + Fat + Sodium = Scrumtrulescence to the nth degree, which is why 91% of what I ate as a child was white rice with butter and soy. There may have been a canned pea in there somewhere, but not by my own choosing.

As an quasi adult, this Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice is the butter and soy to my rice. It’s an all grown-up version of a comforting dish. I recommend it henceforth be the replacement for all your rices, not just because it’s tasty, but also because it includes the magical root, turmeric.

Which brings me to my next point. For today’s edition of root vegetables 101, we’re talking about turmeric.

You guys, this plant is insane. No matter your feelings on root vegetables, or vegetables in general, your life needs to be infused with turmeric. It will make you all the healthies.

What the Hillary Swank is Aromatic Rice?

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice

The title has a therapeutic ring to it, but what is it?

Aromatic rice is simply medium or long-grain basmati or jasmine rice. It has a nutty flavor, is commonly prepared with saffron threads or ground turmeric, and is typically incorporated into Asian, Indian, North African, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Some cultures serve aromatic rice with fresh chopped cilantro, pine nuts, and/or dried fruit. The rice adds vibrance and flavor to a meal, and is served alongside sauce-y vegetarian or meat dishes.

Let’s stare unabashedly at ginger and turmeric snuggling.

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice

I have shown you turmeric in smoothie-form with my Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie, Beet, Turmeric, and Mango Smoothie, and Mango Lassi recipes; however, it’s high time we cook with it.

Turmeric is from the root of the Curcuma longa (any botanists in the house? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?), which is a leafy plant related to ginger. For such a small root, turmeric packs an insanely healthful punch and has been touted in the medical industry for its ability to prevent and fight cancer.

Let’s talk basics.

Turmeric 101:

What does turmeric look like?: Put simply, turmeric looks like the orange version of ginger root, only its smaller than ginger. The orange peel gives way to a bright orange interior. Careful, because although turmeric’s color is brilliant and pretty, it stains your clothes, plastic, and wood.

What does turmeric taste like?: Turmeric may look like ginger, but it tastes nothing like it. It has a peppery and bitter flavor. The fresh version does have a slight creaminess to it, the way fresh ginger has. Be careful with how much turmeric you use, lest your dish end up with a bitter flavor.

Health benefits of turmeric: Turmeric has been used as a natural remedy in Chinese and Indian culture for centuries. It is a natural anti-inflammatory, and has been used to treat jaundice, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, and cancer. Turmeric also eases digestive discomfort, and boosts your immune system. Full of antioxidants, turmeric helps cleanse and heal your liver.

How to select and store fresh turmeric: Choose fresh turmeric that is firm with an un-damaged peel. Store turmeric in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. It should last between 3 and 4 weeks. If it hasn’t been cut or damaged, you can store whole turmeric roots in a root cellar for a couple of months.

How to cook with fresh turmeric: In order to cook with it, peel the skin using a paring knife and either finely chop it or grate it. You can use it in the same types of dishes you would ginger, and most curry dishes call for turmeric.

In the past, I’ve used ground turmeric for aromatic rice, but this time around I used fresh. I also added fresh ginger and garlic, dried cranberries, and pine nuts. The rice comes out full of color and fresh flavor. I enjoyed the rice with chicken tikka masala, and will definitely be making it time and again when I cook ethnic food.

Turmeric. It un-does all your debaucherous doings. Do that.

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Author: Julia


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or oil of choice)
  • 2 cloves large garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh turmeric peeled and grated*
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

For serving:

  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts


  1. Pour the dry rice into a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 15 minutes, then drain.
  2. While rice is soaking, put on a kettle of water and bring to a full boil.
  3. Add the coconut oil, garlic, and ginger to a medium-sized pot and heat to medium. Sauté until very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, turmeric and salt, and sauté an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add 2 cups of boiling water, reduce heat and simmer, covered until water is absorbed, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. A few minutes before rice is finished cooking, stir the fresh lemon juice and dried cranberries into the rice. Re-place the cover and continue to cook.
  7. Serve with fresh cilantro and pine nuts alongside your favorite main dish.

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice - Basmati brown rice with health benefits!

P.S. Pair this rice with Chicken Tikka Masala!


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    1. Julia Post author

      Kudos to you for incorporating turmeric in your cooking! It’s definitely not a plant most people think about, but it’s amazing how powerful it is from a health standpoint. Enjoy your Indian food, m’dear!

    1. Julia Post author

      Thanks, girl! If your store carries fresh turmeric, I definitely recommend trying it! It’s always fun to see where those bottled spices come from, and it’s fun/easy to cook with 😀

    1. Julia Post author

      Thanks, my ladies! Turmeric definitely has all sorts of ish going on, and certainly does make for a puh-retty rice. Let’s get togethers and eat rice for dinner, mmkay? Great!

  1. Susan

    Botanist (of sorts) here… I’ve actually seen fresh turmeric at the Kitty Hawk NC Harris Teeter. Never cooked with it, though. I’ve thought about buying some to take home with me, but we’re going home the long way this time, visiting friends and family, but I’ll definitely try this with the ground turmeric until I can get some fresh.

    1. Julia Post author

      YES! I knew someone here would know botany-speak! I’m so glad you’re going to try fresh turmeric. It really is lots of fun to cook with. Just be sure you avoid putting it on anything you would prefer to not be yellow, haha! Enjoy!

  2. Kari@Loaves n Dishes

    You must have read my mind! I am sooo looking for more ways to get tumeric into my diet to help with my creaky fingers (not joking). Love me some aromatic rice, and the color is awesome! BTW, I grew up on Minute Rice with butter, sugar & cinnamon.

    1. Julia Post author

      Oh yes, the brown sugar and cinnamon rice was the dessert after the butter and soy sauce rice. We’re two birds of a feather, I tell ya!

  3. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies

    My little sister would literally eat nothing but rice with butter for years. She might willingly mix the rice with cream of chicken soup, but trying to get her to eat anything else (especially for breakfast) resulted in a full psycho-meltdown, the details of which would make even the craziest of crazies say “woah”. This rice definitely looks like it’s worth falling in love with and committing monogamously to, at least for a couple of dinners, but I’ll try to avoid the tantrums when it’s time for something else.

    1. Julia Post author

      LOL, the things kids eat always crack me up. I’m sure she’ll grow up to be just like you and expand upon the things she’ll try and eat. Although, I’m not gonna lie: rice + butter + cream of chicken soup sounds amazeballs.

    1. Julia Post author

      Thanks, Katya! I was a World Market fiend/frequenter until I realized I own every single one of their dishes, ha! I would just die if they got new inventory!

  4. Joanne

    I swear, whenever I feel even a little bit sore, I chow down on some turmeric-stuffed meals and I am CURED. it is like a miracle drug.

    Love this richly flavorful rice!

  5. Kellyl

    If I only have ground tumeric and ginger at the moment, and I want to make this right now, would I use the same amounts called for in the recipe? Or would that be too much? thanks.

  6. Chad

    I made the rice with fresh turmeric, and the flavor was fantastic! I used brown basmati rice, but it turned out a little chewier and less fluffy than I wanted. Was the heat too low? Did I sautee the rice for a bit too long before adding the boiling water? By the way – I made the crock pot chicken tikka masala to go with it, and some frozen naan I threw in the oven. My dinner guests were dazzled, and I was taken aback at how delicious it was!

    1. Julia Post author

      I’m so glad your guests enjoyed the meal!! I’d say the chewiness of the rice must have come from too much liquid…sorry the texture wasn’t as fluffy as it should have been! I’ll give the recipe a try again and see if I need to adjust the amount of liquid. Thanks for the feedback and I hope you have a great weekend!

      1. Chad

        Julia, I tried the recipe again, but used a better-suited pan and increased cooking time by 5 minutes. It was perfect! Paired it again with the chicken tikka masala (which looked and tasted amazing, but to me had a gluey mouthfeel due to too much corn starch). My guests once again devoured everything! I’m so glad my local supermarket (Heinen’s, Cleveland, O.) had fresh turmeric and ginger, because using fresh made all the difference. Now to get the turmeric stains off of my hands and clothes!

        1. Julia Post author

          Yaaaaaay! I’m so glad round two turned out well, and am happy you re-made it! Yeah, that turmeric is an amazing root but sure does stain easily…good luck with the stain removal – if nothing else, the stains will make for a good story 😀

  7. Virginie

    Wow! This was easy AND delicious! And the smell while cooking was WONDERFUL. Next time I’ll use a bit less water though, made the rice a little puddingy. Favours are still great though. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  8. Gina

    This recipe has spices and cooking oils that have been sitting in my cupboard begging to be used. It looks so good! I can’t wait to make it. 🙂

  9. Alison Gouette

    This looks wonderful!Can you sub ground turmeric for the fresh? I havent been able to find fresh turmeric yet….Thanks!

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Alison! You can definitely use ground turmeric. I’d say start with a small amount (1/2 – 1 teaspoon?) and adjust to taste, because ground turmeric can become overpowering pretty quickly. Hope you enjoy!

  10. Donna

    You should add some freshly ground black pepper when you cook with turmeric. It increases the bioavailability of the turmeric. I was roasting organic cauliflower and added the chopped leaves with the onion and garlic, too. I didn’t use cranberries or pine nuts, but I will try it that way next time.

    1. Julia Post author

      I didn’t realize pepper increased the nutrient capability of turmeric – this is great to know! Thanks a bunch for the feedback, and happy cooking!

  11. Shawna MewCoy

    Do you think if I added onion that it would take away or dramatically change the existing flavor combination of this dish? it sounds amazing, as is. I just tend to add sautéed onions to most dishes?

    Also, I have what basmati rice and brown rice but not brown basmatic rice. Do you think that plain brown rice would be fine, and if so, do you know how best to adjust cooking time?

    The recipe sounds amazing. I just got some turmeric root (I had to order it online,) and I cannot wait to make this for dinner tonight.

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Shawna, you can definitely add sauteed onion – that addition sounds awesome. It won’t make a difference what type of rice you make, so brown rice will work! I’d just follow the cook time on the back of your brown rice package 🙂 Enjoy!

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