Masala Rice

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Masala Rice or ‘spiced rice’ is one dish that I always end up making when I have some leftover rice at home. I don’t waste food and use leftover food in many ways. This Masala Rice recipe is one such way. It is vegan, easy to make, gets done within minutes and very tasty too. In this post, I have also mentioned about my exclusive post on various other recipes that can be made using leftover rice. Give it a read.  

masala rice served in a bowl

About This Masala Rice

Thinking of what to do with the leftover rice at home? No worries, stir up this quick, easy and vegan Masala Rice. Best option for tiffin food too.

All you need to do is sauté some onions and tomatoes with your everyday spices and herbs. Then, add the rice to it and toss everything up. The result is a yummy spiced rice, that can be had plain or accompanied with a bowl of raita, yogurt, salad or pickle.

You can even prepare this Masala Rice with freshly cooked rice. Just remember to let the rice grains cool down completely before you add them to the spice or masala mixture. It makes for a filling brunch, lunch or dinner.

Masala Rice vs Masale Bhat

Though similar in words ‘masala’ and ‘bhat,’ which means rice in English, Masala Rice is quite different when compared to its close sibling Masale Bhat. Rice is the main ingredient in both, but this Masala Rice recipe uses leftover rice and Masale Bhat is made with uncooked rice. Thus, is more like a pulao in texture.  

Masale Bhat is a popular Maharashtrian version, which is richer as its also loaded with many vegetables and more of spices as compared to the Masala Rice. Another significant thing that is a major differentiator between the two is a typical spice mix called Goda Masala that goes in Masale Bhat.

Other variations of the Masale Bhat include the Vangi Bath (Brinjal Rice), Tomato Bath (Tomato Rice) and the Tondli Bhaat (Ivy Gourd Rice).

For the garnish bit as well, there are more elements in the Masale Bhat versus the Masala Rice. Traditionally, grated coconut, coriander leaves and roasted cashewnuts are added to the Masale Bhat whereas just a sprinkle of fresh coriander is more than enough for the Masala Rice.

However, you can serve both these rice preparations with a raita of your choice or a bowl of plain yogurt (curd), salad and pickle amongst other things.  

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Masala Rice

Prep and Make the Masala

1. Finely chop 1 green chili, 1 medium-sized tomato and 1 medium-sized onion. Measure the spices and keep the rest of the ingredients ready.

measured ingredients for masala rice

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in pan. Keep the flame to a low. Add ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds and fry them till they splutter.

Use any neutral tasting oil. You can also use ghee for a vegetarian version.

frying mustard seeds till they splutter

3. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and fry till they are browned.

adding cumin seeds to hot oil in pan

4. Now, add the finely chopped onions.

adding chopped onion to the pan

5. On a low to medium-low heat sauté onions stirring often till they soften and become translucent.

sautéing onions in hot oil till translucent

6. Add 1 sprig curry leaves (10 to 12 curry leaves) and finely chopped green chilies.

adding curry leaves and chopped green chili to the pan

7. Sauté for 20 to 30 seconds on low heat.

sautéing onion mixture in pan

8. Add the chopped tomatoes.

adding chopped tomato to the pan

9. Stir and mix well. Sauté stirring often till the tomatoes soften and become mushy.

sautéing tomatoes till mushy

10. Now, add the following ingredients one by one:

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon fennel powder
adding turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder and fennel powder to the pan

11. Stir and mix well.

mixing the spices well

12. Add 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) and salt as required. You can skip asafoetida to make this dish gluten-free.

adding asafoetida and salt to the onion-tomato mixture in the pan

12. Sauté the masala or spice mixture for a minute keeping heat to a low so that the ground spices are not burned.

sautéing the spice mixture in the pan

Make Masala Rice

13. Add 2 cups steamed rice or leftover rice. Ensure that the rice is completely cooled and not hot.

Adding hot to very hot rice will make the dish mushy or pasty with the rice grains breaking while stirring.

adding cooked rice to spice mixture in the pan

14. Stir and mix gently but thoroughly so that the masala coats the rice grains.

mixing cooked rice with spice mixture in the pan

15. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more, while continuously stirring the rice on low heat.

cooking masala rice in the pan

16. Lastly, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves.

adding chopped coriander leaves to masala rice in pan

17. Mix with the rice or you can even garnish the masala rice with the coriander leaves while serving.

mixing coriander leaves in the masala rice

18. Serve the masala rice hot or warm with raita or a salad, pickle and papad.

masala rice served in a bowl

Leftover Food Culture in India

The concept of using leftover food to create many more scrumptious dishes is a common phenomenon in India. As we Indians consider food to be godly and nothing less than an emotion, wastage of food is out of question.

The most common leftover food at an Indian household has mostly been the steamed rice. Over the years, many Indian recipes have been developed using leftover rice.

For instance, this Masala Rice itself along with other dishes like Lemon Rice, Curd Rice, Rice Pakoda, Rice Cutlet and more. Here are some more Leftover Rice Recipes that you must give a try.

Apart from dishes made using leftover rice, there are many other dishes from leftover food that are not just interesting but are really scrumptious. Like the Idli Chaat made with leftover idlis, Kuzhi Paniyaram or Sweet Paniyaram made with leftover idli batter or the lovely Punjabi style Aloo Tikki Chole chaat made with leftover chole.

Expert Tips

  1. Fry the whole spices in hot oil first so that they release their flavors completely. Make sure to add the powdered spices towards the end, just before the rice, as they are more delicate.
  2. The spice level in this Masala Rice is moderately hot. Tone down or increase the spiciness of the dish by decreasing or increasing the quantity of green chilies, red chili powder and garam masala powder as per your palate.
  3. You can add vegetables like green peas, corn, carrots, etc. to this recipe, to make it more nutritious and add a different texture too. If doing so, cook the veggies before adding the rice.
  4. After adding the leftover rice, make sure to stir the rice mixture with light hands or else the rice grains might break. The masala must coat the rice well.
  5. This Masala Rice can be made with garlic too. You can also skip adding the onion and garlic all together.
  6. You can prepare this dish in ghee and can also garnish it with fresh mint leaves. Using ghee in this recipe will make it a non-vegan dish.
  7. Turn this masala rice into gluten free too by skipping the asafoetida.


Can I prepare the masala mixture a night before and use it the next day?

Yes, you can do that. You can prepare the masala mixture a night before and refrigerate it till further use.

What else can I make with leftover rice except for this Masala Rice?

You can prepare a lot of quick dishes with leftover rice like Fried Rice, Tawa Pulao, Tamarind Rice, Curd Rice, Rice Cutlet, Rice Pakoda, etc. Search with the words “Leftover Rice Recipes” on my website for more ideas.

What can I add to leftover plain white rice to make it more interesting?

You can refer to this Masala Rice recipe for a spicy, quick dish with leftover rice. Other than this, you can add vegetables, spices and herbs, sauces, seasonings, cheese, etc. to leftover rice and make interesting dishes out of it.

Can I prepare this Masala Rice with uncooked rice?

Yes, you can definitely do that. If doing so, make sure to soak the rice well before using it. Also, keep in mind the quantity of water that needs to be added while cooking the rice grains.

What type of rice should I use to prepare this Masala Rice?

You can use Basmati rice or any other long-grained rice/regular rice, or even short-grained rice varieties like Ambemohar rice, Sona Masuri rice or Kolam rice.

Can I skip the garam masala powder in this recipe?

Yes, you can.

Is it possible to add vegetables in this Masala Rice recipe?

Yes, you can add vegetables of your choice in this Masala Rice. However, there’s a separate Masale Bhat recipe with veggies that you can also give a try.

Can I cook this Masala Rice recipe in ghee?

Yes, you can definitely do that. But in that case, this dish won’t be vegan.

More Rice Recipes To Try!

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masala rice served in a bowl

Masala Rice

Masala Rice or spiced rice is a medium spicy dish made with leftover rice, onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. Makes for a hearty meal with some raita or salad.
4.82 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 2


  • 2 cups leftover rice or steamed rice – ensure that the cooked rice is completely cooled
  • ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves – 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 green chili – chopped
  • 1 onion – medium sized, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato – medium sized, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) – optional
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • ½ teaspoon fennel powder (ground fennel)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • salt as required
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves – optional


  • Heat oil in a frying pan or skillet. Fry the mustard seeds on a low heat till they splutter.
  • Add the cumin seeds and fry till they crackle.
  • Now, add the onions and sauté stirring often till they soften and become translucent. Sauté onions on a low heat or medium-low heat.
  • Add the curry leaves, green chili and sauté for 20 to 30 seconds on low heat.
  • Add the tomatoes and sauté stirring often till they turn mushy.
  • Now, add all the ground spice powders and asafoetida along with salt. Sauté the masala or spice mixture for a minute on low heat taking care that the ground spices do not burn.
  • Add the leftover cooked rice. Stir gently and mix well so that the masala coats the rice grains.
  • Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more, continuously stirring the rice gently on a low heat.
  • Lastly, add coriander leaves and mix with the masala rice or you can even garnish the masala rice with the coriander leaves when serving.
  • Serve masala rice hot or warm with raita or with a salad, pickle and papad.


  • Remember to use cooked rice that has been cooled completely. Adding hot rice will result in the rice grains breaking while stirring and can result in a mushy or lumpy dish. 
  • Adjust the spices and seasonings according to your taste preferences. 
  • Make the dish more healthy by adding steamed, roasted or cooked vegetables like carrots, sweet corn, green peas, potatoes, cauliflower, bell peppers, baby corn etc. 
  • The recipe can be halved or doubled.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Masala Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 485 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Sodium 86mg4%
Potassium 328mg9%
Carbohydrates 79g26%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 814IU16%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 62mg310%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 116mg141%
Vitamin E 6mg40%
Vitamin K 8µg8%
Calcium 60mg6%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 749µg187%
Iron 5mg28%
Magnesium 41mg10%
Phosphorus 124mg12%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This Masala Rice post from the blog archives first published in June 2013 has been republished and updated on 24 April 2022.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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4.82 from 11 votes (4 ratings without comment)


  1. I tend to make one big pot of rice each week to serve with multiple meals, but it gets boring. THIS IS PERFECT. My husband told me I can make this as often as I want, lol. It was really flavorful, and while it has heat, it’s not the sort that lingers and makes your mouth feel on fire. I recommend this website so often – literally everything I have made from it has been fantastic. Thanks!5 stars

    1. Wonderful to know and thank you Jenny for sharing a positive review and feedback on the masala rice recipe. I am glad the other recipes you have made from the website are great too. Thanks again and wish you all the best.

  2. Dear Dassana,
    I don’t have words to express my gratitude for the help you are doing by sharing delicious, simple to cook and unique recipes. Thank you so much for everything. What I like about your blog is that you are so careful about detailing. Especially about quantity of ingredients with their pictures and sequence they follow in recipe. You are a wonderful cook and teacher too. Whatever I have tried all came out delicious. And I never got confuse about making it. I can go on cooking forever :).
    My personal favorite is kothambir vadi, biryanis , kulfi and there are many more . Really yummy. Thank you Dassana.


    1. Hi Rhea, thank you so much for the wonderful and lovely feedback. I am happy that the fine detailing has helped you to cook great food. Thanks also for sharing your personal favorites. Most welcome and all the best.

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    1. thank you kalpana. i am so glad to read your comment. agree that for girls their moms are a good mentor in cooking. thanks again and happy cooking.

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    1. thanks a lot misbah for this sweet comment. i am glad and happy. sure i will keep on adding recipes as and when i get time. thanks again and happy cooking.

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    1. welcome suchitra, glad our blog could help you in your day to day cooking. thanks for positive feedback.