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.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
3. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and fry till they are browned.
4. Now, add the finely chopped onions.
5. On a low to medium-low heat sauté onions stirring often till they soften and become translucent.
6. Add 1 sprig curry leaves (10 to 12 curry leaves) and finely chopped green chilies.
7. Sauté for 20 to 30 seconds on low heat.
8. Add the chopped tomatoes.
9. Stir and mix well. Sauté stirring often till the tomatoes soften and become 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
11. Stir and mix well.
12. Add 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) and salt as required. You can skip asafoetida to make this dish gluten-free.
12. Sauté the masala or spice mixture for a minute keeping heat to a low so that the ground spices are not burned.
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.
14. Stir and mix gently but thoroughly so that the masala coats the rice grains.
15. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more, while continuously stirring the rice on low heat.
16. Lastly, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves.
17. Mix with the rice or you can even garnish the masala rice with the coriander leaves while serving.
18. Serve the masala rice hot or warm with raita or a salad, pickle and papad.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- This Masala Rice can be made with garlic too. You can also skip adding the onion and garlic all together.
- 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.
- Turn this masala rice into gluten free too by skipping the asafoetida.
Yes, you can do that. You can prepare the masala mixture a night before and refrigerate it till further use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, you can.
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.
Yes, you can definitely do that. But in that case, this dish won’t be vegan.
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- 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)
This Masala Rice post from the blog archives first published in June 2013 has been republished and updated on 24 April 2022.