The turmeric rice is these bowls is one of my new favorite staples. It’s flavorful, versatile, and amazingly, it comes together in less than twenty minutes, which means I can make a batch even on a busy weeknight. For the last couple days I’ve been putting it in breakfast tacos (with refried beans, avocado, and a handful of shredded green cabbage), throwing it into salads with black beans or lentils, and–most of all–serving it up in these simple turmeric rice bowls with quick pickled onions & chickpeas.
My vegan lunch bowl tradition emerged out of convenience. It was an easy way for me to use up the disparate batches of dressings, grains, and beans that are always in my fridge, especially after a Sunday of batch cooking for the week ahead. When I was developing recipes for the new book last summer, I realized that bowl recipes aren’t always as simple as the grain/bean/dressing mixtures I’ve come to rely on midday: because they involve a bunch of components, it’s easy to get carried away, and while the finished recipe is incredibly rich and varied, it’s sometimes quite a bit of work to pull off all of the moving parts.
This bowl really is low maintenance. The pickled onions take about ten minutes to prepare, tops, and can be pulled off many days in advance. The rice is a twenty minute affair. The chickpeas and spinach need no fussing, though you’re more than welcome to use steamed or sautéed greens or broccoli or zucchini or whatever in place of the raw greens if you like.
And while I couldn’t resist making a batch of my cashew raita to pull it all together (a friend of mine has nicknamed me “sauce boss” because of my obsession with dressings/sauces), you could skip the sauce and spoon some of the pickle brine over the rice and chickpeas instead. Or you could use my tahini mint dressing, turmeric tahini dressing, or tahini goddess dressing. Your favorite chutney would be great, too. Whatever works.
For this rice recipe, I prefer to use white rice: white basmati, jasmine, or long-grain white rice will all work well. Part of what I love about the turmeric rice is that it’s so fast, and white rice is what allows for the speedy cooking time. I also love the tenderness of white basmati, the fact that its flavor is mild enough to allow the spices (turmeric, cumin, and coriander) and hint of coconut flavor to shine. If you feel strongly about using brown rice, I recommend brown basmati or long-grain brown rice, and simply know that the cooking time will be about double (thirty-five or forty minutes, rather than twelve to fifteen).
Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas
For the quick pickled red onions (adapted from Cooking Light):
- 1 small or medium sized red onion halved and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
For the rice:
- 2-3 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 small white or yellow onion diced
- 1 cup white basmati or long-grain white rice* soaked in cold water for 10 minutes and drained before adding
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt plus extra to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups water
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ cup finely chopped green onion tops optional
- To prepare the onions, place the thinly sliced onion in a wide-mouthed, roomy, heat-safe mason jar or other storage container. Place the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Bring the water to boil, then add it to the bowl and whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the mustard seeds, then pour this whole mixture over the onions. Allow the onions to sit for about 15-20 minutes. They'll be ready to use, but you can also cover them tightly and refrigerate them for up to a week. The flavors will get more intense as the onions keep.
- To prepare the rice, heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a medium sized pot over medium low heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they’ve just started to pop, add the onion. Cook the onion, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it smells lightly toasted (about 2 minutes).
- Add all remaining ingredients to the pot except for the lime juice. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Remove the rice from heat and allow it to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and remove the bay leaf. Squeeze in the lime juice and green onion, if using. If you'd like to add a little moisture, you can drizzle the rice with an additional teaspoon coconut oil. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
- Divide the rice into four bowls. Top each with a quarter of the greens and chickpeas and a little scoop of pickled onions. Drizzle with the onion brine or with your dressing of choice. Serve.
I love using the rice in the bowls to create a textured, varied, and complete meal. There’s so much flavor here, from the fragrant, spiced rice to the zippy, tart onions. But the rice also a really worthy side dish: I’d love to try serving it with dal, some oven-baked tofu, or with a simple curry dish. It would even be lovely with some sautéed greens and naan.
You guys will tell me when you’re totally sick of chickpeas, right? I feel as though every other recipe I put on the blog features chickpeas as a protein source 🙂 For the record, cooked lentils, black beans, and kidney beans will work nicely in these bowls, too.
Wishing you all an easy entrance into the week. Happy Monday.