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Easy Yellow Rice with Cardamom & Cloves

Buttery and delicious, this yellow rice looks fancy but it is so easy to make! And, you only need 7 ingredients and 20 minutes to make it. This vegan yellow rice pairs perfectly with curry and sautés and everything in between.

A big gray tray with Yellow rice with cardamom and cloves.

This yellow rice is so good that there has been many a time when I have served myself a large plate of it and gobbled it down without anything else. Buttery and incredibly flavorful, this rice is a vegan spin of the Sri Lankan yellow rice my mom makes.

Growing up in Sri Lanka, every holiday, birthday, and celebration involved a large plate of piping hot, aromatic yellow rice. Usually, yellow rice was served with some curried eggplant, potatoes theldala (aka a dry curry like this), chicken curry, cutlets, boiled eggs, chutney, and some sambol (aka salad). But, my mom’s version was so delicious, it could have been served straight up!

My mom’s yellow rice is so fragrant, that when we visit her and she has it on the menu, we can usually smell it before she even opens her front door.

My mom usually makes her yellow rice with ghee or butter, curry leaves, whole cloves, cardamom pods, saffron, turmeric, and basmati rice.

What I have here today is a vegan spin on my mother’s recipe.

The 7 ingredients needed to make this yellow rice on a grey platter.
The 7 ingredients that are needed to make this yellow rice.

What are the ingredients needed to make this easy yellow rice?

I used vegan butter instead of real butter or ghee. As I haven’t found any curry leaves at grocery stores near me, I opted to leave them out. By the way, if you can get your hands on some curry leaves, add about 4-5 to this recipe. They add just a hint of flavor and a ton of delightful aroma!

That golden hue you see here is because of two spices. One of which is saffron. Now, saffron isn’t cheap, but I have been finding little mini jars with an equally mini-amount of saffron in them at stores like Sprouts and Trader Joe’s for around $7.00 to $8.00. Now that might not be that cheap – but, you only need a little bit for this recipe. Saffron is one of those spices where a little goes a very long way. So, you will have saffron on hand when you next need it.

The other ingredient responsible for that golden hue is turmeric. Another one of those spices where a little goes a long way. And, turmeric is a nutrition powerhouse.

I love garlic and chose to add some finely chopped garlic to this yellow rice.

Washing the rice before using it.

By the way, the rice I used was basmati. I washed it by placing it in a bowl of water and muddling it, then draining out the cloudy water. I repeated this until the water was no longer cloudy. By the way, remember to always wash your rice! By the way, You can also use jasmine rice or long-grain enriched white rice for this recipe. Just make sure to check cooking times as they may vary depending on the type of rice you chose to use.

And, the final two aromatic spices that go into this 7-ingredient yellow rice recipe are whole cloves and cardamom pods. You can usually find whole cloves and cardamom pods along with other spices at most grocery stores. However, if you cannot find them, I would urge you to not use powdered cloves and powdered cardamom. The flavors of the powdered versions are more intense and they would not work well in this recipe. So, if you cannot find whole cloves and cardamom pods, leave them out.

Why do I love this simple rice recipe?

I simply adore this yellow rice.

  • It is highly aromatic,
  • It is packed with flavor,
  • It is gluten free,
  • It is plant-based,
  • And, it is so easy to make.
A large platter of buttery garlic Yellow rice warm and delicious

What do you serve with this yellow rice?

This yellow rice pairs well with curries like this zucchini curry and this mango chutney.

But, it pairs just as well with roasted meats and steamed veggies.

If you love rice for breakfast, you could serve this yellow rice with a fried egg and a bell pepper saute.

No matter what you pair with this rice, I am pretty sure you will enjoy it as much as I do.

A big gray tray with Yellow rice with cardamom and cloves.

Easy Yellow Rice with Cardamom & Cloves

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Buttery and delicious, this yellow rice looks fancy but it is so easy to make! And, you only need 7 ingredients and 20 minutes to make it. This vegan yellow rice pairs perfectly with curry and sautes and everything in between.


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp roughly packed saffron
  • Approx 1 tbsp cardamom pods
  • Approx 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste


  1. First off peel the garlic and chop it up finely and set it aside.
  2. Then place rice in a bowl and cover the rice with water. Stir it a bit with your hands or a spoon. The water usually turns cloudy. Drain out the cloudy water, careful not to drain out the rice. Then fill with fresh water and repeat this process until the water is not cloudy anymore.
  3. Then place the butter in a pan and place it on a stove with the heat set to medium.
  4. When the butter melts, add in the washed rice, the chopped garlic, the saffron strands, the turmeric, the cardamom pods, the whole cloves, and the water.
  5. Turn the flame up and bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. As soon as it begins to boil, lower the flame, cover the pan and let the rice simmer for 10-14 minutes. Keep an eye on the water - as you do not want it to evaporate entirely and leave you with burnt rice at the bottom of your pan.
  7. When the water seems to be absorbed, check the rice to see if it is tender. If it is not, then add in a few tablespoons of water or 1/4 cup and simmer until the rice is tender. However, if the rice is tender, when the time is up, fluff it with a fork, season it with salt and enjoy warm.
Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 117Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 15mgSodium 203mgCarbohydrates 15gFiber 2gSugar 0gProtein 2g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and should be considered an approximation only. Savory Spin makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. Please do consult a professional nutritionist for more accurate information. Please do keep in mind that prep times, cooking times, etc, are provided as guidelines as there are so many variables at play.

Did you make this recipe?

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David @ Spiced

Wednesday 13th of October 2021

I have become a huge fan of cardamom...but I typically use it in baking recipes. I totally need to try it in this yellow rice. This sounds delicious, Shashi!!

John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 6th of October 2021

Love yellow rice! I make a version that's similar to yours, but not quite as flavorful. Have it try it your way!


Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Looks so tasty and delicious, I love it! It will the perfect dish to serve with roasted vegetables for today's dinner!


Tuesday 5th of October 2021

I loved how you played the spices here. It made the dish very unique. Very nice side dish!


Monday 4th of October 2021

Easy, quick and flavorful. This is surely a comforting meal platter. Looks delicious.

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