Padma Lakshmi's Yogurt Rice + A Giveaway from Padma!

Can I be real for a second? Like, realer than normal real? Padma Lakshmi was basically my idol growing up. When most other young Bravo-loving gay boyz were losing their minds over Heidi Klum on Project Runway, I was busy obsessing over how Padma managed to make a show about food look so chic. The poise! The outfit! The genuine and constructive criticism! I was enamored. While my infatuation didn't wane as I got older, I never really knew much of Padma's work other than from what I'd seen from the show. Needless to say I kind of had a joyous breakdown when her awesome team informed us that she was releasing a new book titled Love, Loss, and What We Ate.  It's a memoir about her life with a few recipes she's garnered over the years. 

Matt and I spent a couple of days at the beach earlier in the week and had the chance to just relax and read through it all.  Verdict: it's amazing. Like, hold onto your horses and be prepared to cry and laugh and be like, "Oh my God girl you did what?!" cause it's all in there, raw truth, some real shit. Anyway, lucky enough for me and for you (three of you, at least!), she's letting us give away signed copies of her book! Just like leave a comment below telling us who you'd make a recipe from Padma's book for anddddd you can also hop over to our Instagram to keep your eyes peeled for our announcement there for an additional entry(!!!)

Now about this recipe. Raise your hand if you've ever thought of putting yogurt in rice. I'm really hoping someone actually just raised their hand. If you've never considered combining these two staples before, I get it, but prepare your taste buds cause it's totally dope. Maybe it sounds kind of odd, but it reminds me of that delicious thing that happens on Middle Eastern falafel platters, when a little bit of the tzatiki runs into the saffron rice and it creates this beautiful creamy and aromatic mouthful. This recipe has kind of the same concept, the mixing together of the spice with the cooling yogurt, though in this dish it gets mashed together to make something that resembles a rice porridge. The added cucumber (or pomegranate seeds, depending on season), brings in a little sweetness and texture, resulting in a dish that's humble, delicious, and pretty much the perfect accompaniment to any meal, lunch or dinner. 

You'll probably need to take a trip to an international market for some of the ingredients, such as the asafoetida powder and curry leaves, but it's totally worth it. Check out the recipe below and don't forget to enter for your chance to win one of Padma's books!

Padma's Yogurt Rice

Prep time 10 minutes | Serves 4 - 6

  • 5 cups cooked white Basmati rice
  • 4 cups whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peeled and diced English cucumber or 2 cups pomegranate seeds (we did half and half of each)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons white gram lentils 
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
  • 1 to 2 Serrano chilies with seeds, diced, or more to taste
  • 1 dozen fresh medium curry leaves, torn into pieces
  1. In a large bowl, combine the rice, yogurt, and salt, kneading them together with your hands. Stir in the cucumber or pomegranate, set aside.
  2. In a small saute pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. After a few minutes, when the oil is hot and shimmering, add in the lentils. When they're just beginning to turn golden (about 3 minutes), add in the mustard seeds and asafoetida powder. Stir briefly.  You will hear a popping sound when the seeds begin to cook.
  3. After just a minute, when the popping becomes more frequent, add in the chilies and curry leaves. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.  Pour the lentil-mustard oil over the rice mixture  and stir well with a spoon.
  4. The consistency should be similar to a porridge or oatmeal.  Serve at room temperature or cold. We topped ours with a little extra pomegranate and cucumber, along with a few mint leaves. Padma recommends adding just a touch of water before serving if you made this dish in advance. 


Padma mentions that pomegranate seeds are great for fall and winter, while cucumbers are better for the spring and summer. We happened to have access to both so we went the route of splitting the rice mixture in half and using a cup each of pomegranate and cucumber in separate bowls.


Contest Rules & Disclaimer

**update: this contest is now closed, congrats to the winners!**

This giveaway is sponsored by the office of Padma Lakshmi (thanks a ton, Padma!) and will last from Sunday (5/15) at 6 a.m. (CST) until Tuesday (5/17) at midnight. Winners will be chosen from random, one for each day of the giveaway. You may enter up to one time per day here and on our Instagram for each of the three days! Good luck!