Some 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.
More recipes using vegan yogurt:
- Vegan Cucumber Yogurt Rice
- Vegan Dahi Vada
- Homemade Cultured Cashew Yogurt
- Vegan Instant Pot Yogurt
- Vegan Cucumber Raita
Vegan Curd-Rice (Thayirsaadam)
- 1 cup rice (cooked)
For the tofu yogurt
- 12 oz silken tofu
- ¾ cup soymilk
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the tadka (tempering)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil (or any vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
- ¼ cup raw peanuts
- 1 tablespoon urad dal (black gram dal)
- 2 dry red chillies
- A generous pinch of asafetida
- Place all the ingredients for the tofu yogurt 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.)
- Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the asafetida and the red chillies.
- Immediately add the udad dal and the peanuts. Toast on a low flame until the dal and peanuts start to turn lightly golden-brown.
- Add the curry leaves and ginger to the skillet, mix, and immediately turn off the heat.
- Place the rice and tofu yogurt in a large bowl and pour the tempering over the top. Mix well.
- Add more salt, if needed.
Hii..it's unbelievably good and similar to dairy curd rice...thank you so much for this receipe. 😍
So happy you loved it!
Excellent recipe! Easiest vegan curd rice recipe I've ever seen. I was skeptical about it since it is not how traditional curd is prepared but adding lemon for the tang is genius and is what makes the tofu taste similar to curd. Tofu curd by itself has a soy smell to it, which can easily be masked by the aromatic tadka. The recipe as-is gets a 5/5 from me but in comparison to real curd rice, I'd give it 4.5/5. Must try!
I just wanted to say thank you for this incredible recipe. I live in Australia and I've been vegan for a few years now. The thing I've missed the most is my Dad's go-to dish - what he called "Yoghurt Rice". He told me that he used to eat it frequently growing up in Madras, and he made it for me all the time when I was growing up in Sydney. Having stopped eating dairy, I had thought that I would never be able to have it again, until I came across this recipe of yours. I made it and it was absolutely incredible. So much like my Dad's! Thank you so much for this gift. I've also been having a go at some of your other recipes, particularly the bread ones - you're a wonderful talent. Thank you
Hi Stefan, I am so happy the curd rice recipe brought back nice memories for you. Thanks for sharing them with me. This recipe is definitely a well-loved one at our home too, and Desi, my Tamil husband, prefers it to the one with dairy yogurt. 🙂 Thanks for the lovely message and the kind words.
Can you use any other non dairy milk instead of soy like almond or cashew milk?
As a plant based recipe developer of South Indian origin, I have been struggling for a really long time to find a good vegan yogurt to work in thayir saadam. It really does run in my veins. The commercially available ones just don’t cut it over rice. Thank you Vaishali for this! I can’t wait to try it out and take that final step towards veganism!!
Delicious curd rice!! Thank you very much for posting thus receipe
Hey Vaishali, just saw this post today when looking for alternatives for curd, do you have any alternative similarly for buttermilk?
I am at Mumbai, is tofu and soymilk available freely? what brand would you recommend?
An alternative for buttermilk would be Godsend and help me go off dairy totally.
Hi Mahadevan, you can just dilute the tofu yogurt -- like the one I use in my thayir saadam (tofu and soymilk/water, salt, and lemon) to make buttermilk-- kinda like we dilute regular yogurt with water for buttermilk. I use this for my mango lassi all the time. Add lemon juice per taste.
I haven't lived in Bombay for years and I am not aware of what tofu and soymilk brands are available there, but there definitely are a few. I will ask this question in a forthcoming post, in case there are other Mumbai readers who might be able to help. Cheers.
Thank you for your response.
Brilliant ,at home my wife makes me peanut curd, I will try this too. Thanks
I love your recipes. I am trying to be a vegan from past month as suggested by my doctor to get my thyroid function straightened. But unfortunately as someone else also mentioned in the comment, NO SOY or SOY products allowed in my diet 🙁 Also, I read so much about the bad effects of SOY, I would recommend no one to eat or use soy products. It is unfortunate how the marketing works. Another thing is Microwave literally kills ALL the nutirents. I am proud to say, I have not used microwave in a month!
Anyways, if you have any suggestions for curds with no SOY, please share with me. Also, I would like to know the other ways to parboil brown rice (not using microwave).
Hi Amy, thanks for your kind words and for the suggestions, and I hear you. I would find it hard to give up the convenience of the microwave, but I have definitely been trying to cook less with soy. I do think that some soy in moderation is fine. I don't have a soy-free curd recipe, but I will definitely try and think of one. The versions I have seen with nuts tend to be too high in fat, like cashew nut curds and peanut curds. Maybe there's a happy medium somewhere?
And you can definitely parboil the rice on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, turn off, and let it stand.
Thanks for writing back to my comment on your post on tofu curry and thanks for recommending this wonderful recipe.
I haven't had thayir sadam in abt 6 months now (since going vegan) but couldn't quite get it off my head and craved for it often! Tried your recipe and am amazed at how close it is to the real thing..finally cravings satisfied 🙂
It was so good my husband and I finished up the entire portion...but am wondering , how well would this 'yoghurt' and the 'yoghurt rice' keep in the fridge?
Thanks for sharing this super easy recipe in your lovely blog ..it is so much easier than all these complicated recipes to make nut yoghurts!
Am so glad I tried this!
Hi Vidhya, so thrilled you tried the thayir saadam. We crave it a lot here in our home too, particularly Desi. And yes, ease is a very important factor in my cooking. 🙂
The thayir saadam would keep in the fridge for a couple of days, although you might want to give it a good stir before serving.
This recipe is a winner. I have moved away from all forms of dairy but I couldn't give up the craving for curd rice. The recipe is perfect and my husband couldn't find the difference. Thanks for coming up with this.
Akila, so happy to hear that. This vegan curd rice is a favorite in our home too, especially with Desi. Thanks for letting me know! 🙂
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.. 🙁
Sudha, your question got me thinking, and I have something in mind I'd like to test. I will share with you soon.
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.
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....
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.
Gayatri and Kalyani
I am a silent follower of your blog. When I was searching for curd rice with non-dairy products in google, I cam across a site that has copied your recipe and photos word by word. Please check it out.
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!
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!
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.
Dr. Rupa Shah
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.
Groundnut milk yogurt sounds like a super idea. must try. Wonder if yogurt can be made with sesame milk - would also be close to dairy in nutrition profile.
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:).
This is what has kept me from trying this out, although it looks yummy. Perhaps good amount of seasoning with lots of curry leaves may help mask the tofu taste. One of these days, I might try this but feel Vaishali's cashew cultured yogurt make a super curd rice (minus the protein power from tofu, of course).
Another product that is not available in India is Vegan Butter 🙁
For some sweets it's absolutely necessary for binding.
Karen's Vegan Kitchen
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.
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 🙂
awesome dairy substitute!
jodye @ 'scend food
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!
This is a very interesting recipe! The curd rice looks so creamy and yumm!
I can't wait to try this! I've been trying to find something to put my plain soy yogurt to use in.
this is brilliant!
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...
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. 🙂
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.
Very interesting vegan curd rice..awesome..
Your curd rice looks excellent!
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
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.
Very creative, Vaishali! I'm impressed. I agree that tofu is very healthy, but yogurt has its own health benefits as well, especially probiotics.
Curd rice looks very creamy. Except for a light off white color, I think once can't differentiate this from the regular curd rice.
Awesome. Was thinking it was soygurt itself - the tofugurt is must try and sure I can recreate it in India.Excellent rice Vaishali
I didn't even know about curd-rice. How nice of you to develop a recipe for that girl. It looks very tasty!
Like all south Indians even I can't do without curd rice. Your vegan version is very unique. Great Job!!!
DJ Karma (VegSpinz)
Nice! Never tried this, but sounds intriguing!
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.
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!
wow its very gr8 idea of enjoying curd rice for vegan ...healthy n tasty recipe Satya
That is really a great addition to the list of Vegan foods Vaishali. Sounds healthy too with Tofu in it. Thanks for sharing.
WOW! vegan yogurt - rice! U amaze me. 🙂
curd rice, with ot without dairy defenitely warrants a post of its own! your vegan version is very innovative!!
Interesting curd Vaishali. Looks very creamy and healthy.
Ohh thanks, will definitely try and write back