Yellow Peanut Rice

Yellow peanut rice is a South Indian recipe that I’ve been eating since I was young. I don’t even know if that’s the right name but that’s just what we call it in my family. The rice is made with lemon, coconut, fried spices, peanuts, cilantro and it’s yellow in color from hulthi or turmeric spice.

Turmeric is really good for health so I try and put a little bit of it in most things I cook. It’s a close relative of ginger and similarly has a bit of a pungent flavor and helps to soothe the stomach. The spice comes from the root of a tropical shrub. It’s been used in traditional Indian medicine for a long time to treat ailments and recently has been shown to help fight diseases – cancer, diabetes, arthritis and Alzeimers. You can find it in most grocery stores.

I remember my 4th grade teacher had all the students bring in foods from their cultures and this is actually the dish I brought in. My school was mostly Irish and Italian kids so I was nervous to bring Indian food in, especially the bright yellow kind, but since peanut rice was one of my favorites that’s what my mom made. I was so worried about it and to top it off I was so shy (I cringe thinking back). I thought no one would try it and I’d have to eat it all before going home so that my mom wouldn’t feel bad. I was a mess UNTIL I saw this one Tupperware with octopus in it. I was like oh Italian food looks funny too! Anyway it was really cute because all the kids loved it and the octopus. And there was none left to bring home.

I like serving this rice with yogurt and its nice to pack for a picnic. When I gave my friends Andrew and Faouzi a cooking class we ate the rice with spinach raita, sambar, green beans palya and kosambri:

I just shot the video for this recipe with Alana and Paul. Take a look here.
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  • docbr0wn

    from first glance, your dish looked like lemon rice. but after reading the recipe, you went a sort of diff direction.

    my mom would do something similar to what you made if there was leftover rice from the night before. except instead of pouring the spices over the rice, she’d keep the heat on and add the rice to the spices and quasi-stir fry a lil. that way, no drop of spiced oil will be left behind in the pan. she would also add the lemon juice to the rice mixture to give that contrast flavor.

    religious implications aside, coconuts are overrated. the nut addition is clutch, but i think cashews seal the deal. but thats just me, and im a cashew kinda guy.

    overall great site.

  • Chitra

    oops i totally do fry the spices in the wok and add the rice! I was mixing up what I do for another recipe. i just edited this one. this recipe has lemon as well and i love coconut because it adds a sweet flavor and nice texture. cashews are delicious. thanks for adding this idea to the comments.

  • Priya

    Yellow peanuts rice looks yummy..

  • anita

    I love the backstory. Reminds me of the day I brought a paper towel-lined shoebox full of my grandma’s empanadas to 4th grade for international day. Same story!

  • Karen Vasudev

    This is a great recipe for using up left over rice (as mentioned above). Just add 1/4-1/2 tsp. turmeric to the vagharne after the dhals have lightly browned (it burns quickly) and then add the rice into the wok and mix well to get an even color. Cook in the wok to heat through and “marry” the flavors. When you add the salt and lemon juice it will become a nice “lemony” yellow. The fresh coriander leaves freshen it up and the coconut is an added bonus. In our family, peanuts were the traditional nuts added to this dish for festivals. They have a distinctive flavor that complements the lemon and other spices. We used cashews in sweet dishes.

  • Laura

    I love this recipe! I have been using cashews in place of the peanuts (I’m not a big peanut fan), and it’s always delicious. I’ve been working on perfecting it, and when I make a bunch to take to share, folks always ask for the recipe.


    One question: my dals are always a little too hard, even after I fry them a lot. Do you have any tips on getting them to be softer?

  • Chitra

    I’m so glad! Yes cashews are a great variation in this recipe. The fried dals are nice for texture and when I make the dish, they are a bit crunchy and hard. You can always omit them if they are not working for you though, but I have noticed that the next day in the rice the lentils are somewhat softer. I’m wondering if they are absorbing some of the moisture from the rice and lemon so maybe soaking them in water a little after frying would soften them up a bit. Let me know how it goes!

  • Laura

    Aha! I will try that next time and let you know what happens; I did have some leftover rice a couple of weeks ago that had been in the fridge for a bit, and the dal was indeed softer.


  • Anitha

    great recipe..will try this surely!

  • Chowringhee

    YUMMY dish as well as easy
    preparation…loved it