Rice Pilaf with Fresh Turmeric

If you’ve never enjoyed the pleasure of fresh turmeric, you’re really missing out. It has a delightful astringent quality that is incomparable, and it stains your fingers and I’m always one for a food that leaves its stain on the cook’s hands. A farmer, and former resident of my small town, who now lives in Hawaii sends fresh turmeric and fresh ginger to our local health food store once or twice a year. While such a long distance hardly qualifies as sustainable, the turmeric is truly delicious.

Turmeric is rich in antioxidants, particularly curcumin, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Numerous studies have documented turmeric’s very positive effect on our health most notably in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis and even cancer.

This recipe is deliciously flavored with raisins (always a lovely foil to turmeric’s pungent flavor) and incorporates fresh turmeric if you can find it. You can, I imagine, substitute powdered for fresh.

rice pilaf with fresh turmeric

By Jenny Published: January 4, 2009

    If you've never enjoyed the pleasure of fresh turmeric, you're really missing out. It has a delightful astringent quality that is …


    • 1 Cup of Organic Brown Basmati Rice
    • 1 Organic Onion
    • 1 Knob Fresh Organic Turmeric
    • 2 or 3 pods Organic Cardamom
    • 2 Tablespoons of Butter, Ghee or Coconut Oil
    • ¼ C Organic Raisins
    • ¼ C Organic Pistachio Nuts, Shelled
    • Water or Broth as Needed


    1. To get the most nutritional punch from your grains and legumes, you’ll need to soak them first. Soaking grains improves digestibility and nutrient absorption. Unlike other grains, rice need only be soaked for a few hours.
    2. So, pour tepid water over your rice until the grains are completely submerged. Allow the submerged rice to sit on your counter for at least two to four hours. Drain.
    3. Next, prepare the foods that will flavor the rice. Peel and coarsely chop the onion. Peel and grate the fresh turmeric.
    4. Heat the fat in a skillet over medium, when it is melted add the cardamom pods and onion. When the onion turns translucent, add the rice, turmeric, raisins and pistachio nuts. Continue to cook until the mixture is fragrant.
    5. Transfer the mixture to a rice cooker, and fill the rice cooker with water or broth according to your cooker’s directions. I use the Mt. Fuji method (fill the pot with water until it reaches 1 knuckle above the top of the rice). Cook according to your rice cooker’s directions. Serve warm.

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    What people are saying

    1. Shu says

      The recipe sounds great! I’m going to try it the next time I cook rice (: Just a quick question: Don’t the pistachios have to be soaked in saltwater and then dehydrated?

    2. says

      In my webfull wanderings I always run across your spot! I will be imitating your recipe using red quinoa this evening. Thank you for the continued kitchen inspiration.

    3. ksandra says

      Bought fresh tumeric for the first time and searched the web for a recipe to use it. Made this with a few modifications based on what I had in the house: Dried cranberries instead of raisins and pine nuts instead of pistachios. Used 1/2 the ghee and twice the cardamom pods. Delicious! Thanks.

    4. Ken G says

      I made this. Skipped the raisins, used regular basmati, and substituted pine nuts. It was great!
      Soak basmati for 30 minutes – no more.

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