Curd / Yogurt Rice Recipe (Thayir Sadam)

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The delicate and mild-flavored South Indian curd rice (also known as thayir sadam or yogurt rice) is a befitting finale to a sumptuous spicy meal. Learn how to make this comfort food in under 30 minutes.

Curd rice served in a metallic gold and red bowl accompanied by pickle in a ceramic brown bowl with coriander on the side
Curd rice recipe

What is curd rice?

The mixture of cooked rice and curd, commonly known as curd rice or dahi bhaat, is a dish that is savored across India, but it is in the South that it has come on its own with a tempering that adds a delicate and refreshing flavor to the yogurt and rice mixture.

The tempered yogurt rice version is popular in restaurants and in South Indian temples (where it is offered as a holy offering to gods and then distributed amongst devotees as prasad).

The untempered version is more commonly served in South Indian homes at the end of every meal. It helps soothe the stomach after a spicy meal; the probiotics in the curd help aid digestion, and it is perfect to combat the hot summer days that the folks in South India often experience.

Curd rice / thayir sadam / yogurt rice

Across southern India, curd rice is referred to by different names; in Tamil Nadu, it is known as thayir sadam, where thayir means curd (or yogurt) and sadam is rice. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is called daddojanam; in Karnataka, it is known as masruanna or mosaranna, and thayir choru in Kerala.

In northern and western India, curd rice goes by dahi baat or dahi chawal, where dahi means curd and chawal / bhaat stands for rice.

Irrespective of what it is called, the preparation is mostly the same barring a few Indian spices.

Are curd and yogurt the same?

No – yogurt is commercially produced, whereas curd is homemade.

Both curd and yogurt are made by boiling and then cooling the milk before adding a bacterial culture to it.

The difference is that homemade curd contains only one strain of bacteria (Lactobacillus), whereas commercially prepared yogurt usually has two strains of bacteria (Lactobacillus Bulgaris and Streptococcus thermophilus).

Since yogurt is commercially prepared and under controlled conditions, the end result is standardized and has the right amount of bacteria. The bacterial strength of homemade, fresh curd may vary from one household to the other, depending on the culture used.

Having said that, you can substitute curd for yogurt and vice versa in all recipes.

Helpful resource: Difference between curd and yogurt.

Fun fact: The term curd is mostly used in India, whereas in the US, even the homemade ones are called yogurt.

Reasons to love this recipe

There are many reasons to love this creamy curd rice recipe, and here are a few of our favorite ones –

  • A simple yet satiating meal that takes less than 30 minutes!
  • Perfect for days when you have an upset stomach – it is light on your tummy, and the probiotic in the yogurt helps aid digestion.
  • It tastes great even after a few hours, making it perfect for travel and school/work lunches.
  • A cooling meal or a side dish for hot summers.

My tryst with thayir saadam

I first became acquainted with this dish when I first had it at a South Indian buffet. I have always liked curd, so obviously, I was drawn to this tempered, creamy rice and yogurt combination. I was hooked at the first bite, and I remember refilling my plate so many times that I had no place for dessert.

No regrets, though, because I totally enjoyed it.  

Health benefits

There are many health benefits of curd rice, and the most common ones are that it aids digestion, and has a soothing and cooling effect on the body. It also contains probiotics, antioxidants, and beneficial fats, and that’s why it is especially recommended for people who have an upset stomach.  

Here’s what you need to make the recipe

Ingredient notes/swaps

  • Cooked rice Sona masoori rice or Basmati rice works best. You can also use brown rice as a substitute. You can also use leftover cooked rice for this recipe. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water first and microwave it for 30 to 60 seconds until it has softened a bit.
  • Yogurt / Curd – You can use storebought or homemade yogurt. Preferably use full-fat yogurt for best results.
  • Whole milk – prevents the yogurt rice from turning sour after a few hours and gives it a creamy consistency.
  • Grated cucumber/carrots – though these are optional ingredients, I usually add them to get a dose of veggies.
  • Green chilies – to add heat
  • Fresh ginger, grated – for flavor and its medicinal properties.

For tempering

  • Ghee or oil – You can use ghee or coconut oil to make it more flavorful. Any neutral-flavored oil, such as avocado or sunflower, will also work.
  • Mustard seeds
  • Hing or asafoetida (optional) – aids digestion
  • Urad dal
  • Kashmiri red chili (dried)
  • Curry leaves

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below.

An overhead shot of curd rice served in a metallic gold and red bowl accompanied by pickle in a ceramic brown bowl with coriander and a brass spoon on the side
Thayir Sadam / Curd Rice / Dahi Bhaat

How to make the perfect curd rice?

Did you know that the best curd rice is the one made from fresh rice? 

That is because freshly cooked rice tends to be moister and can be easily mushed. Having said that, you can definitely use leftover refrigerated rice. You’ll have to sprinkle a few tablespoons of water first and microwave it for 30 to 60 seconds until it has softened a bit.

If you are making white rice from scratch, cook it to the point that it is overcooked and mushy by using at least two times more water than usual.

Allow the rice to cool down, then mix it with yogurt, salt, green chilies, and grated veggies, such as cucumber and carrots, until well combined. Traditionally, thayir saadam is made by combining the ingredients using clean fingers till you get a lump-free, homogenous mixture. But if that is not your style, feel free to use the back of a ladle to mush the rice and yogurt mixture. 

To finish the dish, mustard seeds, curry leaves, red chilies, a bit of hing, urad dal, and cashews (optional) are added to hot oil or ghee. This mixture is known as tempering, aka tadka, which is then added to the mashed rice mixture. 

Right before serving, dahi rice or dahi baat can be sprinkled with finely chopped cilantro or coriander leaves. Sometimes it is served with chopped grapes or pomegranate arils as well.

Step-by-step instructions to make curd rice

  1. Cook rice with almost twice the quantity of water over the stovetop or in an electric pressure cooker such as the Instant Pot. For 1 cup of Basmati rice, use 2 cups of water; for 1 cup of Sona masoori rice, use 2.5 cups of water when using an Instant Pot.
  2. Pressure cook Basmati rice for 6 minutes and Sona masoori rice for 10 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, release the pressure. Mash the rice with a back of a ladle till it is completely mushed. Remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot and allow the rice to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Whisk yogurt with milk till they are well combined. Mix well with grated cucumber, green chilies, salt, and grated ginger.
  4. Add the yogurt mixture to the rice and mix it by hand or use the back of a ladle. 
  5. Add oil or ghee to the tadka pan kept over medium heat. 
  6. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds start to sputter, add urad, red chili, and a sprig of curry leaves. 
  7. Let them sizzle for about 10 seconds, and then pour this mixture over the curd rice mixture. Garnish with cilantro and mix well. 
  8. Serve accompanied by lemon or mango pickle and/or papads.
A collage of step by step pictures on how to make curd rice
Step-by-step pictures of curd rice

TIPS

  • Cook rice with almost twice the amount of water – this overcooks and softens it, making it easier to mush. [See the recipe card for instructions to cook Basmati and Sona masoori rice]
  • Freshly cooked rice tends to be more moist and can be easily mushed; that’s why it is usually preferred. If you are using refrigerated leftover rice, sprinkle a few tablespoons of water first and microwave it for 30 to 60 seconds until it has softened a bit.
  • Cool rice for 15-20 minutes before mixing it with curd. Mixing hot rice with curd will lead to curd breaking down and becoming grainy.
  • Add whole milk: Milk helps reduce sourness and gives this curd rice a creamy texture. It is okay to skip it if you plan to eat within a few hours.
  • Use store-bought or homemade ghee to add more flavor to the dish.
  • Use creamy, full-fat, fresh yogurt for best results.   

Substitutions/variations

  • Substituting white rice – You can also make it with brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice.
  • Fruits and vegetables – grated carrots, cucumber, or grated green mango make great additions to this dish.
  • Tempering – You can add halved cashews to the tempering, and if you don’t mind a hint of sweetness, feel free to add golden raisins. Fry the cashews till they are golden brown, and then add raisins. Turn off the heat when the raisins start to plump.
  • Garnishes vary from household to household, but chopped cilantro, halved grapes, and pomegranate seeds are the most common.
Curd rice served in a metallic gold and red bowl topped with mango pickle and papad. It is also accompanied by pickle in a ceramic brown bowl with coriander on the side
Thayir Sadam Recipe

Storage tips

Refrigerator: This South Indian curd rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days in an air-tight container.

Freezer: Frozen yogurt separates and gets grainy and watery when thawed. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend freezing yogurt rice.

Reheat: Yogurt breaks down when heated, so I wouldn’t recommend heating curd rice. You can serve yogurt rice cold or at room temperature (just let it sit out for 15-20 minutes). When you refrigerate curd rice, it’ll solidify and lose its creamy texture. To fix it, add a few tablespoons of milk and mix well.

How to prep ahead

You can prep ahead by cooking the rice a day in advance. You can also grate the cucumber and carrots (if using) and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Serve it with

Yogurt rice is often served with a side of pickle, podi, or papad in the South. I also like to pair it with

  • Jeera aloo – a simple potato dish tempered with jeera (cumin seeds).
  • Fish chutney – A dry chutney made from fish, coconut, and tamarind with a hint of tang.
  • Mangalorean fish fry – A fried fish delicacy that makes an excellent accompaniment to curd rice.
  • Yeti (shrimp ajadina) – a delicious side dish from Mangalore.
Pink circle with light bulb

Frequently asked questions

What is a good substitute for curd or yogurt?

You can use sour cream instead of yogurt but remember that sour cream has a higher fat content than yogurt.

How to make curd rice for lunch box?

Curd rice is an excellent meal to take away with you on a journey or even to work or for school lunches. You need to add more milk to preserve the consistency and to prevent curd rice from going sour. Also, if you are planning to take it for lunch the next day, hold off on the tempering process and do it the next morning. 

Can yogurt rice be heated? 

Curd rice is always eaten cold or at room temperature. It should not be warmed or heated. On heating, the curd is likely to break down and separate, giving a grainy texture to the dish. 

What is the best side dish for curd rice?

While curd rice is best paired with pickle, podi, or papad, we love to eat it with a side of this Mangalorean shrimp delicacy – shrimp/yeti ajadina or dried fish chutney

Did you enjoy this recipe or have a question?Please leave a comment below. Don’t forget to rate!
Curd rice / thayir sadam served in a red and blue metal bowl
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4.78 from 9 votes

South Indian Curd Rice Recipe (Thayir sadam)

The delicate and mild flavored curd rice (also known as thayir sadam or yogurt rice) is a befitting finale to a sumptuous spicy meal. Learn how to make this comfort food in under 30-minutes. 
Pin Print Save
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 cup uncooked rice (or 3 cups cooked) sona masoori or Basmati
  • 2-2.5 cups water
  • 2 cups thick yogurt fresh, preferably
  • ½ – 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup grated cucumber optional
  • 1-2 Indian or Thai green chilies (Bird’s eye) chopped finely
  • 1 inch-piece ginger finely grated

For tempering

  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal washed and rinsed
  • 2 whole dried red chili halved
  • A sprig of curry leaves

Optional garnishes

  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro optional
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds optional

Instructions
 

Cooking rice in the Instant Pot

  • Rinse the rice using a strainer till the water runs clear.
  • Soak the rice in twice the amount of water for 30 minutes. You can skip this step if you are in a rush.
  • Add water (2 cups for Basmati or 2.5 cups for Sona masoori) to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. 
  • Drain the rice and add it to the inner pot. Mix well.
  • Close the lid and set the steam valve to sealing.
  • Pressure cook for 6 minutes for Basmati rice and 10 minutes for sona masoori rice.
  • When the cooking cycle is complete, open the lid and let the steam escape.
  • Use the back of the ladle and mash the rice. Remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot. Set it aside to cool for at least 15-20 minutes.

Making curd rice

  • Whisk yogurt with milk till they are well combined.
  • Add grated cucumber, green chilies, salt, and grated ginger to the yogurt mixture and mix well [Note: Start with 1/2 cup milk and reserve 1/2 cup for later].
  • Add the yogurt mixture to the rice and mash well using your fingers or the back of a ladle. Add the reserved milk as needed to ensure every grain of rice is moist.
  • Add oil or ghee to the tadka pan kept over medium-heat. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds start to sputter, add urad, red chili and a sprig of curry leaves. 
  • Let them sizzle for about 10 seconds and then pour this mixture over curd rice mixture.
  • Garnish with cilantro and mix well. 
  • Serve immediately accompanied by pickle and/or papads.

Notes

  • Cook rice with almost twice the amount of water – this overcooks and softens it, making it easier to mush. 
  • Freshly cooked rice tends to be more moist and can be easily mushed; that’s why it is usually preferred. If you are using refrigerated leftover rice, sprinkle a few tablespoons of water first and microwave it for 30 to 60 seconds until it has softened a bit.
  • Cool rice for 15-20 minutes before mixing it with curd. Mixing hot rice with curd will lead to curd breaking down and becoming grainy.
  • Add whole milk: Milk helps reduce sourness and gives this curd rice a creamy texture. It is okay to skip it if you plan to eat within a few hours.
  • Use store-bought or homemade ghee to add more flavor to the dish.
  • Use creamy, full-fat, fresh yogurt for best results.
Read the post…For helpful information on ingredient swaps, storage tips, meal prep ideas, and variations!

Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Nutrition

Calories: 208kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 6gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 77mgPotassium: 235mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 174IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 141mgIron: 0.5mg
Diet: Vegetarian
Course: Lunch / Dinner recipes
Method: Instant Pot
Keywords: Thayir sadam, Yogurt Rice, Curd Rice
Cuisine: Indian

This post was published on Feb 22, 2019, and has been completely updated with new information (images and text) on May 1, 2023.

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