Light & Filling Indian Fried Rice

Light & Filling Indian Fried RiceApril is the awkward 12-year-old of months.  It doesn’t quite know what it wants to be yet.  Is it still winter?  Or is it spring?  In the middle of its tweendom, it just can’t quite decide.

Last Saturday was one of those perfect spring days that felt like the earth was giving us a surprise party.  After months of being shut inside or drowning in coats and scarves, the thermostat on the sun finally turned up, and it was time at last to throw open the windows and break out the short sleeves.  David and I spent the day with friends at a park, watching children playing on swings and slides, and then we relaxed on the porch outside, sipping on tall glasses of ice water.

Then yesterday I looked out the window at the very slow moving spring rain and deduced after a squint or two that it was actually not rain at all and instead was… snow.  Not much snow.  Not enough to stick.  Just enough snow to be insulting to the daffodils that had only just started to show their yellowy heads.

Light & Filling Indian Fried RiceBut April is like that.  You’re hungry for farmers markets with their sweet carrots, ripe bell peppers, and spring peas, but the winter-coat-weather doesn’t always get the memo.  So it takes a bit of compromise.  No longer wanting to be weighed down by heavy stews, something refreshing and light is in order – but still substantial and warming enough in case that light spring rain decides to go in an icier direction.

Light & Filling Indian Fried RiceToday’s Light & Filling Indian Fried Rice is just the ticket for that.  It’s called fried rice, but very little oil is involved.  In fact, most of the flavor happens with fresh cilantro, lightly sautéed garlic and ginger, and spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric that have been pulled through the dish by deglazing with lime juice and a bit of water.

Light & Filling Indian Fried RiceLoaded with vegetables, this is a hearty one-dish-meal that gets better the next day and is perfect for packing into lunches and reheating at work.  The raisins dotting the top give it an edge of sweetness, and I highly recommend adding the optional peanuts or cashews for a bit of salty crunch.

This dish can be tweaked, depending on the vegetables you have on hand.  Just remember to sauté hardy vegetables earlier in the cooking time and lighter vegetables a little later on, so that they don’t overcook and get mushy.

Light & Filling Indian Fried Rice

Light & Filling Indian Fried Rice

Serving Size: Serves 4

Light & Filling Indian Fried Rice


  • 1 teaspoon organic canola oil, divided
  • ½ cup yellow onion, roughly chopped in medium sized pieces
  • 1 medium sized carrot, chopped in small to medium sized pieces
  • 1 cup cauliflower, broken or chopped into small to medium sized florets
  • ½ cup fresh English shelling peas, shelled from pods (Frozen peas will also work.)
  • ¾ cup red bell pepper, roughly chopped in medium sized pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cups cooked long grain brown rice, cold from the refrigerator
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of water
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • Optional topping: Handful of roasted peanuts or cashews


  1. Bring a large skillet to a medium heat and add ½ teaspoon organic canola oil to the pan.
  2. Add onion to the pan and sauté for a couple of minutes, until fragrant and slightly translucent.
  3. Add carrots, cauliflower, and peas to the pan. Continue sautéing for about 7 minutes, until the cauliflower and carrots have softened but still have bite. Using a spatula, stir the vegetables occasionally.
  4. Lower the heat and add red bell pepper. Sauté 1 to 2 minutes more.
  5. Clear a small area in the pan and add the remaining ½ teaspoon organic canola oil. In that small spot, sauté garlic and ginger for a minute or so, until fragrant.
  6. Add the cooked long grain brown rice to the pan along with lime juice, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and salt. Fully combine the rice and vegetables.
  7. Add water by the tablespoonful until all of the spices are evenly incorporated across the rice. Just use the amount of water needed to deglaze the pan (removing any spices that are stuck to the pan).
  8. Stir in raisins and continue cooking a minute or so until warmed.
  9. Stir cilantro into the rice just before serving and top with a handful of roasted peanuts or cashews, if using.


  1. says

    Mmmmm this sounded so good until you added raisins. I know raisins are popular in indian cooking, but…not for me haha. Thanks for the step-by-step! I was wondering how you were going to stir fry it without getting it to stick. Onions are naturally a great cooking lubricant =) I’ll have to try it, but maybe without the raisins haha

    • says

      Like cilantro, raisins are a great divider! Luckily the fried rice is still terrific without them, or you could use dried cranberries instead if you don’t mind them. :)

  2. Shell says

    Yum! I’ve never had cauliflower in fried rice before. Sounds great! This is a great meal idea when I want to use the variety of veggies I happen to have on hand.

    • says

      I like cauliflower in fried rice as something substantive to use that isn’t potato. Cauliflower has a shorter cooking time than potatoes do and isn’t quite as heavy. I thought of you when I was making this recipe and thought it might be something you’d enjoy! You’ll have to let me know if you try it!

  3. says

    I hope this latest defiant dusting of snow is the last…it just keeps me spinning! My head wants colorfully crispy sparkling salads but the rest of me wants a big heavy bowl of rich mushroom stroganoff…your Filling Fried Rice is the perfect go-between. I think I’ll replace the raisins with mushrooms though because I just can’t do raisins in cooked dishes for some reason, and I need some shroomy goodness! :)

    • says

      I know what you mean! Even though this is classic April weather, it’s hard not to be impatient for spring dresses and bike rides. Enough with the coats and scarves already!

      Good idea to swap out the raisins for mushrooms! That’s the great thing about fried rice – you can tweak it to fit your preferences or match whatever you happen to have in the refrigerator.

  4. says

    Aah I love this recipe! And your description of April is 1000% accurate. We had a nice run of shorts weather, and today I’m all bundled up again.

  5. acookinthemaking says

    Your description of April is dead-on. I couldn’t help myself, had to pull out my warmest scarf this morning :(
    This recipe looks great and like a perfect thing to bridge the gap between winter and spring–it’s warm and comforting but has all those great springy ingredients! I could not be more excited for farmer’s market season to begin.

    • says

      Aw, that’s sad about the scarf! I love my winter coat and all, but I’m more than ready to not put it on for 6 months!

      I am so excited about the farmers market starting up again too. Ours won’t start until the very end of May, and even then there probably won’t be a ton in the way of fresh produce since it’s been such a long/rough winter. It’s one of the best times of the year when the fresh local produce really gets going with a vengeance.

  6. says

    I adore fried rice (just made a huge batch this week!) and your version looks absolutely delightful :) I’ve been following your blog for a long time now, but I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment so I figured I should let you know how much I love your site!! Thanks for all your wonderful inspiration Cadry :)

    • says

      I haven’t tried freezing this particular dish, but I imagine that it would freeze very well. Rice tends to do well being frozen and reheated. Just add a tablespoon of water, if necessary, when reheating to keep the rice from getting hard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>