Simple Turmeric Rice Bowls with Quick Pickled Onions & Chickpeas
4.50 from 8 votes

Turmeric rice bowls are colorful, nutritious, and so simple to make! Once you make the turmeric rice, you won’t be able to get enough of it. This is a complete plant-based meal that comes together easily.

Turmeric rice bowls have been created with chickpeas, turmeric spiced rice, pickled onions, and greens. They're served in two white bowls.

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.

An angled photograph of two turmeric rice bowls, garnished with pink pickled onions.

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).

A small white bowl has been filled with rice, chickpeas, and vegetables.
Turmeric rice bowls have been created with chickpeas, turmeric spiced rice, pickled onions, and greens. They're served in two white bowls.
4.50 from 8 votes

Turmeric Rice Bowls

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


For the quick pickled red onions (adapted from Cooking Light):

  • 1 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 avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup white basmati or long-grain white rice*
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt (more to taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onion tops (optional)

For the bowls:


  • 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.
  • Soak the rice in cold water for ten minutes. Drain it through a fine sieve, then run it under cold, running water and rinse thoroughly. Heat 2 teaspoons of 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.


*In place of white rice, you can use brown basmati or long-grain brown rice. Simmer the rice for 35-40 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.
Rice can be made in advance and will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
A zoomed in image of a white bowl that has been piled with spinach, onions, chickpeas, and yellow turmeric-spiced rice.

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.


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Categories: Recipes, Grains, Greens, and Beans, Vegan Bowls
Method: Stovetop
Ingredients: Chickpeas, Rice
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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4.50 from 8 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing such a delicious & simple rice bowl recipe. Its so easy to make and flavorful.

  2. We’ll never be sick of chickpeas..will we?! I’m obsessed with pickled onions right, I’ve made them the last 3 weekends for food prep..I use a slightly different method but about the same ingredients and they’re so good! They really take bowls of goodness to the next level! That rice looks seriously amazing. Can’t wait to try this combo!

  3. 4 stars
    I made this this week using what I had on hand. I left out the coconut oil and mustard seeds from the rice and used white jasmine rice and I only had half a lime. I made the pickled onions with white onions instead of red and again, no mustard seeds. And I served it with chickpeas and sauteed collard greens with a little tahini drizzled on top. It was really good! I thought the turmeric flavor in the rice was a bit strong so I would use less next time.

  4. Wow, that rice looks scrumptious! I have found a brand of brown jasmine rice that surprisingly cooks in 20 minutes. It might work for this, but I also love white basmati or jasmine too. But I have to say, Gena, that my favorite part of this post is your friend naming you “sauce boss”!!–that just makes my evening 🙂 because, well, you ARE. 🙂 Great name. 🙂 xoxo

  5. Hi Gena, amazing photography! This plate looks great and is something I’d love to try. Thanks! Rich

  6. Lovely looking recipe! Isn’t it amazing how a splash of something like turmeric can transform a dish?

  7. 5 stars
    I salivate instantly every time one of your posts appears in my inbox. Everything about this bowl sounds so good.

  8. Im SUCH a fan of the low maintenance buddha bowls myself, and that rice sounds enchanting. Checking out just about ALL of your creamy sauce recommendations, too 😉

  9. This sounds so flavorful, Gena! I’m pinning your cashew raita to make soon. <3 We're on the same page with the quick pickled onions too. I just made a batch to put in some vegan quesadillas!

  10. Making this for dinner tonight – I definitely need a speedy dish, totally don’t feel like cooking. Thanks, Gena, it looks delicious! And never too many chickpeas. I do the same thing.

  11. More and more often I find myself eating bowls like you for lunch- it’s such a great way to use up leftover odds and ends from the fridge. Pickled onions are such a game changer and I’m finding they add so much to bowls, toast, salads, etc. I have always loved Indian inspired rice and this one sounds delicious yet simple and straightforward. I love that. And I never seem to tire of chickpeas! 🙂