Rice, a dietary staple in cultures around the world, is deeply significant to Indian cuisine. India is home to about 6,000 rice varieties, so it’s no surprise that rice is deeply embedded in the country’s cultural fabric. Its versatility stretches across a myriad of dishes, each bearing the unique imprint of regional flavors, techniques, and traditions. 

From Palak Paneer in India’s Punjabi region to vindaloo curry from Goa in the South, India has contributed to the world a wealth of delicious dishes that celebrate the culinary creativity of its people, and rice is a key ingredient in many of the classic dishes that have grown in popularity all over the world.

Rice in Indian Cuisine 

Indian cuisine utilizes many different varieties of rice, but is perhaps best known for basmati rice which is native to the subcontinent. India is the world’s top producer of this fragrant rice variety, so it’s a popular option for many Indian dishes. 

Other commonly-used rice varieties in India include red rice, a long grain rice with a nutty flavor; sona masoori, an aromatic medium-grain rice popular in South India; and kolam, a medium-grain rice known for its small grains and floral fragrance. 

Nearly 40% of India’s population identifies as vegetarian, and the majority of Indians (81%) follow some restrictions of meat in their diet, so it’s easy to see how vegetarian cooking has had a huge impact on the cuisine of India. In the U.S., only  4% of residents are vegetarian,  but the steady growth in sales of plant-based foods and meat alternatives suggests that more Americans are interested in incorporating more vegetarian dishes into their diets. This has led to the rise in popularity of  many  vegetarian dishes from India, as well as many vegetarian substitutes in classic Indian recipes. 

The beauty of rice is that it works just as well in vegetarian or vegan cooking as in meat-focused recipes, so it’s the perfect grain to include in any Indian-inspired dish. 

How to Cook Indian Rice Dishes

Curried Rice with Pineapple
Curried Rice with Pineapple

Rice varieties have some key differences in taste and texture that can make a difference in dishes. Fragrant rices, like basmati and jasmine, bring a classic aroma to many Indian meals, and taste great in savory as well as sweet dishes. These aromatic rices are also perfect to use in dishes with few ingredients, like this Mango Lassi, that allow the subtle flavor of the rice to stand out. 

One great technique for cooking delicious Indian rice dishes is to prepare your rice in liquids other than water, such as coconut milk or broth. This Curried Rice with Pineapple is prepared with chicken broth and pineapple juice to impart deep flavors into the rice as it cooks—try it with vegetable broth instead for a vegetarian-friendly version! 

Regardless of what type of rice you’re using in your dish, the key to delicious, fluffy rice is to cook it for the correct amount of time. Minute Instant Rice is a great pantry staple that enables you to easily cook perfect rice every time, in as little as five minutes. Minute Rice is made with just one ingredient—rice—so it’s naturally vegetarian, vegan and gluten free! 

Iconic Indian Dishes You Can Make at Home

Spiced Curry Coconut Rice
Spiced Curry Coconut Rice

Whether you’re a seasoned cook or new to the kitchen, there are some simple Indian rice dishes that you can make at home—and you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to make them! These recipes are great for vegetarian meals, but can be altered as you see fit with other proteins and add-ons to really make it your own. 

Spiced Curry Coconut Rice

When it comes to Indian cuisine, it’s hard to think of something more iconic than curry. Curry can come in many different forms, but this Spiced Curry Coconut Rice is a great way to incorporate classic curry flavors at home in just 15 minutes. Combine sauteed ginger, garlic and onion with turmeric and curry powder to get a deliciously aromatic curry base. Then, add coconut milk and water, bring to a boil and add in Minute Instant Jasmine Rice to finish off this delicious dish. This Spiced Curry Coconut Rice is perfect as a side dish or combined with your favorite protein for a full meal. 

Coconut Curry Chicken Rice 

Coconut Curry Chicken Rice Bowls

Another curry dish simple enough for a weeknight meal is this Coconut Curry Chicken Rice Bowl. This dish utilizes Indian spices like curry powder, turmeric and coriander, as well as fresh ingredients including bell peppers, onions and tomatoes for a delicious meal that will taste like it took you hours to make—but using Minute Instant Brown Rice, it can be made in under 30 minutes. Plus, it can be easily prepared vegetarian by substituting the chicken for alternative proteins like cauliflower or chickpeas. 

Tandoori Cauliflower and Rice Bowl 

This quick and easy version of an Indian classic comes together quickly whenever you’re craving an Indian meal at home. Starting with a Minute Cilantro & Lime Jasmine Rice Cup, this Tandoori Cauliflower and Rice Bowl packs zesty flavor into a perfectly portioned meal. Tandoori sauce is a classic sauce made from Indian spices, and has a smoky, savory flavor that tastes great on cauliflower as well as the more traditional chicken. Be sure to top with yogurt to help balance out the rich tandoori sauce with a cooling, fresh element. 

Garlic Butter Kale Rice

Look no further for a vegetarian side dish than this Garlic Butter Kale Rice. This aromatic dish is simple to make and packs plenty of flavor from aromatic jasmine rice, butter and garlic. Just prepare Minute Instant Jasmine Rice, then cook garlic and kale in butter. Add the rice to the mixture, toss in some lemon juice and chopped pecans for acidity and texture, and you’re ready to dig in! 

Mint & Feta Rice Salad 

Another vegetarian rice recipe that incorporates Indian flavors and fragrant jasmine rice is this Mint & Feta Rice Salad. First, prepare Minute Instant Jasmine Rice and allow it to cool completely. Then, combine oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl to create a dressing, and gently toss in the cooled rice, dill and mint. Finally, stir arugula, peas and feta cheese into the salad and you’ve created a light, refreshing and hearty meal!  


When you’re looking for delicious and fulfilling vegetarian recipes, Indian cuisine offers a wide range of meat-free meals that are packed with great flavor. We’ve explored just some of the many popular dishes that you can prepare yourself at home, but there are countless Indian classics that celebrate the rich culinary history of the country. 

With the convenience of Minute Rice, it’s quick and easy to bring the taste of India into your own kitchen and create Indian-inspired dishes at home. Have fun bringing your own personal flair to these classic dishes by adding your favorite ingredients and your own creative spin, and get started exploring the endless possibilities of Indian cooking!

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