This healthy turmeric fried rice is easy and such a flavorful main or side plant-based dish. Very fragrant and loaded with veggies, this version also includes tofu for extra protein, but also more texture. Fully egg-free, dairy-free and packed with good-for-you turmeric!
We have been loving this turmeric fried rice so much! It screams healthy and looks very turmeric-ish, but somehow is a lot more than just a healthy meal.
Its vibrant color will definitely catch your eye, but what we really like about this recipe is its "fried" flavor and consistency without being loaded with oil and processed ingredients. Plus, even though it is made completely dairy-free (no butter!) and without eggs, you won't believe how much flavor comes out of this dish!
It is full of colorful nutrient dense veggies, is nicely aromatic from the dried turmeric powder and garlic, but also, high-in-protein and super filling. We actually eat it alone as a full meal. Or, you can pair it with vegan egg rolls if you are looking for the ultimate Chinese take-out experience right at home.
When taking the pictures, I tried so hard to show off the shockingly egg-ish looking tofu within the grain that makes this dish even closer to a classic fried rice. Now, I can acknowledge that it is kind of hard to appreciate, all that beautiful texture. But it's all in there: chewy, soft, flavorful browned tofu that boosts the dish with more layers of texture, but also adds extra plant-based protein.
This recipe also makes for a tasty way to explore what turmeric has to offer. You will only need dried powder turmeric as opposed to the fresh root, which makes it more accessible for all. You can adjust how much you want to add of the spice, for a more or less spicy dish, but what you will get from following my recipe is a nice turmeric kick without being too overpowering at all. Just will warm you up a bit.
Hope you enjoy this recipe 🧡
Health benefits of turmeric
What got me into using turmeric in the kitchen in the first place definitely is because of all the powerful health benefits it provides. Now that I use it more often, my taste buds got used to it and actually want more of it, healthy or not. Still, I cannot write a turmeric post without bragging about how good it is for you!
What makes it so good? Mostly the antioxidants. Curcumin is the active compound that makes turmeric so interesting (and yellow!). It has a known anti-inflammatory action and is a super powerful antioxidant. Amazing, right?
But, it's not that simple. The problem with these kind of health claims is that studies are made using concentrated amount of active compounds (curcumin in this case), levels that would be really hard to reach only by adding spices into your meals. On top of that, turmeric isn't absorbed that easily in your gut. This is the reason why you might have heard that you should combine oil and black pepper with turmeric to enhance its absorption into your bloodstream.
Still, there is really good evidence that turmeric can help you prevent and fight diseases, such as Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer. Plus, it is really yummy. So why not take a chance and add more turmeric to your dishes?
Want to try more turmeric recipes?
- Turmeric blueberry oatmeal
- Turmeric, ginger and orange glowing shots
- Vegan powdered mac and cheese mix
- Jackfruit coconut curry
- Silken tofu scramble
- Vegan tofu tikka masala
- Vegan egg bites
Ingredients you'll need
- Rice: I used long grain brown rice.
- Silken tofu: yes, you have read it right, you will need the SOFT kind of tofu, not firm. This is what is going to give it that egg-ish texture: the tofu somehow "binds" to the rice and act just like eggs.
- Onion: I used a yellow onion, but sweet or even red onion will work.
- Garlic: we are adding a lot to the rice to flavor it really nicely.
- Red pepper: adds color and a subtle sweetness too.
- Fresh ginger: important for flavor too, don't swap for powdered ginger!
- Ground turmeric: adjust how much you add to the rice!
- Frozen mixed vegetables: so convenient! Choose a mix of carrots, green beans, corn and green peas or simply your favorite veggies. I used half of a 16oz bag.
- Lemon: to brighten up the meal.
What kind of rice should I use?
The classic rice when making a fried rice is a white basmati rice. That being said, I still usually use a long grain brown rice: it is higher in fiber and protein, plus we love its ultra chewy bite. But really, you can use any kind of rice!
The most important thing is to use a rice that was cooked and chilled ahead, which makes this recipe amazing for using your leftover rice. While chilling in the fridge, the grain will dry out a bit, which helps it brown and fry in the pan. If using warm freshly cooked rice, the result might turn out more mushy and too soft. Avoid doing that!
If you don't have any leftover rice, then try to plan ahead and cook some, then immediately spread out on a baking sheet on a thin layer, and transfer to the fridge until cooled down.
How to make it
Cook the tofu
Warm up a large non-stick pan (or wok) and then add a little sesame oil to warm up a bit (optional). Then, transfer the silken tofu all in one block (drain the excess water first) and immediately use a spatula or a spoon to break it up in large chunks. Make sure to spread the pieces out so they can brown easier and keep cooking without touching them much on medium-high heat. After about 3-5 minutes, use your spatula to flip the pieces. Keep cooking until the tofu loses most of its water (it will cook down a lot!) and is nicely browned.
Transfer on a plate making sure to scrape all these tasty brown bits, don't throw them away! Set aside.
Cook the veggies and aromatics
Place the pan back on the heat and warm up for a minute (add a little more sesame oil if desired). Then, add the onion and red pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat stirring often.
Then, add the ginger, garlic and turmeric powder with a generous amount of black pepper. Stir and cook for another minute or so watching carefully not to burn the garlic.
Add the frozen vegetables, stir and keep cooking until thawed. The veggies will release some water, so be sure to let it cook until there is not water anymore.
Combine with rice and finish up
Add the cold rice and the cooked tofu back to the pan and stir well. Keep cooking until everything is warmed up. You can also leave the mixture untouched for short periods of time to allow the rice to brown and add some more flavor.
Add salt to taste and then remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice, taste again and adjust flavor. You can add some soy sauce too, but I usually don't for this recipe.
Serve right away.
Watch how to make it
- Before you start the fried rice, ensure you have everything ready to go, including the chopped veggies, grated ginger, crushed garlic, chilled rice, etc. Once you start cooking, it will go fast!
- When cooking the tofu, make sure you let it dry out a bit in the pan. You want most of its water gone, which can take 10 minutes or so to do (I prepare all the other ingredients during that time). Also, keep the pieces larger at first, it will keep breaking up as you move them around.
- Cook at higher heat for a nice "fried" flavor. Stay around the pan so you can watch carefully.
- The secret to a nice fried rice is to use a day (or two) old rice! Cold and a little dry grains work best as it fries better.
Variations to the recipe
This turmeric fried rice is easy to customize! Don't hesitate to add your favorite veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, bok choy, kale, etc. Also, try adding a few halved cherry tomatoes for added texture.
Although I find the silken tofu amazing in this recipe, if you don't have it, then just skip it. You could also use a regular firm tofu if that's all you have. Other plant-based proteins to consider are black beans, chickpeas, tempeh (roast it first) or nuts, especially toasted cashews.
If you are not that into turmeric, then only use half of its amount and swap the other half for cumin or curry powder. Even chili powder would be amazing.
For more freshness, don't hesitate to add a handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro or basil, whenever everything is done cooking. Dried cranberries or raisins would also pair very well with the spiced rice and would add a nice chewiness and sweetness. Just add them at the same time as you add the rice.
Also, if you love sweet and salty, don't hesitate to add finely diced fresh pineapple!
As mentioned above, we serve this recipe as a full meal, especially since it is loaded with tofu. My husband and I love to add a few dollops of sambal oelek over our plate for a spicy version while our kids love theirs with a few raisins over for more sweetness.
The lemon juice really adds a nice freshness, so I also serve with extra lemon wedges on plates so everyone can add more at serving.
Keep leftovers in air-tight containers in the fridge and reheat in a pan or using the microwave. Leftovers will be good for up to 5 days.
Other rice recipes you might like
I hope you like this turmeric fried rice as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Garlic Turmeric Fried Rice with Vegetables
- 3½-4 cups cooked and chilled rice - white or brown rice work
- 454 g. silken soft tofu - drained (NOT firm!)
- 1 yellow onion - diced
- 1 red pepper - diced
- 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 inch fresh ginger - grated
- 1 tsp turmeric powder - or to taste
- 8 oz frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn) - I used half of a 1 lb bag
- salt and black pepper to taste
- half lemon - juiced
- Cook the rice accordingly to packaging. Set aside to cool down until ready to use. Ideally, use a rice that was cooked the day before and completely chilled in the fridge.
- Then, warm up a large non stick pan and add the soft tofu. I like to first warm up a small amount of sesame oil for added flavor, but that's optional. Use a spatula to break up the tofu in large chunks and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. The tofu will cook down a lot as the water evaporates. Stir often, but try to keep some texture and allow some time without touching it so it can brown. When done, transfer the tofu on a plate and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the onion and the red pepper and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium-high heat (add some more sesame oil as needed). Then, add the garlic, ginger and turmeric powder with a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Stir well and keep cooking for about one more minute.
- Add the frozen vegetables mix and stir well. Let them thaw and cook for a few minutes or until the pieces are starting to brown. Then, add the rice, browned tofu and stir to combine. Once warmed up, remove from the heat and squeeze some lemon juice over. Taste and adjust salt. Serve with fresh cilantro or parsley, if desired.
- Keep leftover fried rice in an air-tight container for up to 5 days and reheat in a pan or using the microwave.
- For best results, it is important to use a cooked rice that is completely cooled down and even better, an old rice that has dried out in the fridge for a bit. The grain browns better that way when frying in the pan. Avoid warm freshly cooked rice or the mixture will get mushy! If you don't have cold rice ready to go, then cook some, spread out on a baking sheet and place in the fridge until completely cold.
- Feel free to add more veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms and kale. Dried cranberries or raisins would pair well with the spiced rice and pineapple also would be delicious for added sweetness. Feel free to add a handful of fresh cilantro or Thai basil for extra freshness.