Thayir Sadam or Curd Rice

Vegan curd riceSome of you might wonder why curd-rice should merit a post of its own, but to understand that, to misquote Atticus Finch, you’d have to wear a South Indian’s shoes and walk around in them.
Curd, or yogurt, and more specifically curd-rice, is mighty important stuff to a South Indian. When my in-laws visit, they are happy enough to drink their coffee with soymilk and they love the vegan sweets I make, including dairy-free Indian sweets. But when it comes to curd-rice, they just have to have the real thing — at every meal. I remember a Tamil friend’s father who, no matter which part of the country he was traveling in and how hungry he was, would refuse to eat at a restaurant unless he could order curd-rice.

Not surprisingly then curd-rice is often the last barrier that stands between a South Indian vegetarian and a vegan life — just like cheese is what keeps many people here in the United States from taking the plunge. One of the most frequent queries in my mailbox, perhaps THE most frequent, is for a vegan substitute for curd-rice.When the reader is in the United States, it’s usually an easy answer: soy yogurt, which is quite easily found in grocery stores here and which I use when I want to make curd-rice.

But soy yogurt is not available in India and, honestly, not everyone has it on hand at all times.I’d been wanting to test a curd-rice recipe with tofu — which is more readily found almost anywhere in the world now– but I was only really motivated last week when I got a query from a mom who said her daughter can’t eat yogurt because of food allergies. “Recently she has started noticing that mommy and daddy eat rice with curd, so why cant  I? It’s hard to explain to a 2 yr old!” she wrote. I typed off an email to her suggesting tofu, but then I realized I had taken the easy way out: after all, I couldn’t really vouch for a recipe with tofu as a substitute for yogurt unless I had actually tried it, could I?


So I did, and it turned out so good that my Tamil hubby, Desi, who is not a vegan and does love his curd-rice, said he couldn’t tell the difference. In fact, he said it was better than any curd-rice he’d ever tasted. This is the more elaborate version of curd-rice: it takes just a few seconds longer to make because you need to add to it a handful of tempered spices and nuts which make it absolutely ethereal.

My vegan version of curd-rice is also healthier because tofu has none of the cholesterol that curd does, and it is also chock-full of protein.

Here’s the recipe then, for all curd-rice lovers out there who want to be compassionate without depriving themselves. Curd-rice goes particularly well with eggplant. Try this with a dry, roasted eggplant curry or with an eggplant-green-pepper gotsu, like the one I made.


Vegan Curd-Rice (Thayirsaadam)
This delicious and vegan version of dahi rice or curd rice will make you a true convert.
  • 1 cup rice, cooked
  • For the tofu yogurt:
  • 1 12-oz package of silken firm tofu (if you can’t find silken tofu, just use drained, soft tofu)
  • ¾ cup soymilk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • For the tempering:
  • 1 tsp canola or sesame oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • 1 tbsp udad dal (black gram dal)
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • A generous pinch of asafetida
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until you have a very smooth paste. Set aside. (If you like your yogurt too sour or too sweet, you will want to adjust the amount of lemon juice. My measurement is for the “just right” version.)
  2. Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the asafetida and the red chillies.
  3. Immediately add the udad dal and the peanuts. Toast on a low flame until the dal and peanuts start to turn lightly golden-brown.
  4. Add the curry leaves and ginger to the skillet, mix, and immediately turn off the heat.
  5. Place the rice and tofu yogurt in a large bowl and pour the tempering over the top. Mix well.
  6. Add more salt, if needed.
  7. Enjoy!
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

39 thoughts on “Thayir Sadam or Curd Rice

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 26, 2010 at 9:29pm

    Interesting curd Vaishali. Looks very creamy and healthy.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Veggie Belly

    August 26, 2010 at 10:08pm

    curd rice, with ot without dairy defenitely warrants a post of its own! your vegan version is very innovative!!

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Sanjeeta kk

    August 27, 2010 at 12:27am

    That is really a great addition to the list of Vegan foods Vaishali. Sounds healthy too with Tofu in it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 3:30am

    wow….i really must try this out. I am one of those who wants to be a vegan..but i love yogurt waay too much and i feel i may fall off the wagon on account of it. Thanks!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 4:21am

    Thanks for figuring out the soy yogurt replacement! I’ve never had curd-rice, but I find commercial soy yogurts to be way too sweet, so I’ll definitely be using your recipe as a reference sometime.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Paaka Shaale

    August 27, 2010 at 7:05am

    Hey Vaishali,
    Like all south Indians even I can’t do without curd rice. Your vegan version is very unique. Great Job!!!

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 7:25am

    I didn’t even know about curd-rice. How nice of you to develop a recipe for that girl. It looks very tasty!

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Curry Leaf

    August 27, 2010 at 8:28am

    Awesome. Was thinking it was soygurt itself – the tofugurt is must try and sure I can recreate it in India.Excellent rice Vaishali

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 10:19am

    Curd rice looks very creamy. Except for a light off white color, I think once can’t differentiate this from the regular curd rice.

    Gorgeous presentation.

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 3:31pm

    Very creative, Vaishali! I’m impressed. I agree that tofu is very healthy, but yogurt has its own health benefits as well, especially probiotics.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 3:47pm

    Latha, Veggie Belly, Manasi, Sanjeeta, Satya, Rajitha, thanks!

    Claire, The sweetness of commercial soy yogurts puts me off too. This version does not have any of that sugary sweetness and is perfect for other foods, like raitas.

    DJ, Paaka Shaale, Mihl, Curry Leaf: Thanks!

    Jayashree, you’re right about the color– it’s a little off-white compared to regular yogurt, perhaps because the soymilk I use is slightly dark. Tastes fabulous, though.

    Ameya, thanks, and I just had to respond to your comment on beneficial probiotics in yogurt. While yogurt has probiotics, it is by no means the only food that does– miso and fermented soy foods like tempeh contain tons of probiotics and other beneficial enzymes that occur naturally, and are great for regulating the digestive system. Plus they have other health benefits, unlike yogurt which is loaded with unhealthy, artery-clogging cholesterol.
    What’s more, there is some research now that shows probiotics may not be good for children and for certain people with compromised immune systems. The fact is that giving up yogurt– and all dairy foods– is better for human health.

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 5:54pm

    Very interesting vegan curd rice..awesome..

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 27, 2010 at 8:01pm

    So nice of your In Laws and also of you to think about 2 year old girl and her mom. Since Desi couldn’t find the difference, it’s really a winner.
    I too was looking for unsweetened yogurt and as you mentioned, it’s not handy every time. I will definitely try this recipe if not for rice but for raita :)

    Thank you for your answer about probiotics- it will help me argue with few people :)
    Thank you very much

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Jaya Wagle

    August 27, 2010 at 11:33pm

    Wow! I would have never thought tofu could substitute for yogurt and that too in curd-rice! When I started reading the post, I thought you would use silken, soft tofu but blending the tofu, rice and soymilk gives it a whole different dimension, I imagine. You always amaze me with your creativity. :)

  15. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 28, 2010 at 1:44am

    Dear Vaishali

    This is my 2nd comment here. I suddenly remembered this curd can be used for Kadhhi (Khichadi Kadhhi) as well.

    Trust me- I can never eat tofu bcos I never liked paneer and I always see the resemblance in their appearance. But still will try this recipe.

    Thanks again

  16. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 28, 2010 at 4:56am

    Curd-rice looks so yummy! I too love curd rice. I often make curd rice with wonderful soy yogurt- (high fibre unsweetened plain).

    Vegan curd-rice with tofu is something I would love to try…

    Thanks again for the veganizing yummy Indian dishes…

  17. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 30, 2010 at 10:07am

    I can’t wait to try this! I’ve been trying to find something to put my plain soy yogurt to use in.

  18. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 30, 2010 at 8:06pm

    This is a very interesting recipe! The curd rice looks so creamy and yumm!

  19. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    jodye @ 'scend food

    August 30, 2010 at 8:31pm

    I’ve never tried curd rice, but your recipe sounds wonderful and I’m always up for new dishes, and it so happens that I just picked up an eggplant today, so I see curd rice in my future!

  20. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 2, 2010 at 9:26pm

    Amazing recipe, Vaishali ! You are right, not having yogurt is one of the major stumbling blocks in going vegan …but this recipe changes that ! I have to give this a try :)

  21. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Karen's Vegan Kitchen

    September 3, 2010 at 3:35pm

    This looks very promising! I know you can buy soy yogurt at the store but it’s so damn sweet I can’t stand it. I am looking forward to trying this out.

  22. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 5, 2010 at 1:58pm

    Dear Vaishali

    Another product that is not available in India is Vegan Butter :(

    For some sweets it’s absolutely necessary for binding.

  23. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 5, 2010 at 6:41pm

    I tried something similar sometime back but I could smell the tofu:(. I am thinking of trying a culture with coconut milk now. But that plate does show some yummy thair chaadam:).

  24. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dr. Rupa Shah

    September 6, 2010 at 5:58am

    I make yogurt from ground nut milk. This yogurt when used to make curd rice, it tastes perfect. We at SHARAN also have a video showing this recipe. Ground nut yogurt can also make very tasty buttermilk.Being vegan in India, we knew this was very important to teach to those who are becoming vegan. It is a success. Also you can make good raita out of this yogurt. Also good for those who cannot take soy for some reason.

  25. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    New Baker

    September 6, 2010 at 7:34am

    Great recipe.Both my husband and myself are vegan.In India, we do not get non-dairy starters to make vegan yogurt at home.I make soymilk at home(using Soyquick).This recipe is the perfect solution to satisfy our cravings for curd-rice!Thanks Vaishali, for all the recipes you have posted.I am a regular follower of your blog but this is the first time I have posted a comment.

  26. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 22, 2010 at 9:22pm

    hi vaishali!

    this is tina, a vegan from bangalore =)

    absolutely adore your blog!! =)

    the vegan curd-rice recipe is lovely!

    I wanted to know whether the vegan curd sets like regular curd if refrigerated…

    Thanks a ton!

  27. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 22, 2010 at 9:45pm

    Hi TJ, Welcome, and thanks for your kind words :)
    I haven’t refrigerated the curd by itself, but it does thicken a lot in the curd-rice itself, which makes me think it would set. If you try, let me know!

  28. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 18, 2011 at 5:21pm

    Gayatri, thanks very much! I recently got Google to take down another post that this site had copied, but they seem to have copied many more of my recipes.
    I appreciate the heads-up.

  29. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 13, 2011 at 10:28am

    I have gone thru your site a million times for recipes, but never discovered this till today!!! Duh! You’re right, curd rice is the final hurdle for a South Indian vegan to cross over. Oh my husband will be so thrilled…I’m going to make this for him as a surprise on Friday. He has resigned himself to never having curd rice again….

  30. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 13, 2011 at 1:15pm

    Kamini, glad you found it. :) Desi loves this version as much as he ever loved the real thing, and I hope your husband will too.

  31. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    March 14, 2013 at 5:34pm

    hi V
    as every south indian vegetarian says, my hurdle to turn vegan – yogurt and curd…i can skip tea and i dont drink coffee (yes am a misnomer for a tam bram :P)…but unf, i am allergic to soy and all soy based products (thanks to my thyroid malfunction)..coud u recommend something else less time consuming pl.. i feel guilty about the curd i eat.. :(

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply


      March 14, 2013 at 5:54pm

      Sudha, your question got me thinking, and I have something in mind I’d like to test. I will share with you soon.

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