Turmeric Fried Rice With Eggs and Kale

This quick and easy dinner is Chinese fried rice with an Indian spin. Make it with ginger, cumin, and turmeric, toss in some kale and tomatoes, then top it with a fried egg and you have dinner served in 30 minutes.

Overhead view of two plates set diagonally. The lower plate has a fried egg on top of the vegetarian fried rice. Chopped tomatoes, kale and chickpeas are mixed in with the rice.
Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko

Our “Cooking for Two” series is all about those of us who love good food but need smaller batches. Maybe you’re single, or coupled but with no kids (no kids, before kids, after kids). Whatever the reason, you don’t necessarily want a lot of leftovers hanging around. We had you in mind when we developed these recipes.

I love Indian flavors, and vegetables, and healthy meals! So, this Indian-style fried rice is right up my alley.

This recipe takes a detour from traditional fried rice, the well-known Chinese invention of leftover rice and vegetables cooked in a wok with some scrambled eggs in the mix.

Here you start with onion, ginger, garlic, and leftover rice, and so far, you’re in the ballpark of the original. But that’s where the similarity ends. Cumin, turmeric, chickpeas, tomatoes, and shredded kale add a different twist. The egg (optional) goes on top of, not in, the rice.

This dish gets bonus points for being quick and easy. If you want a dish that’s more veg than rice, use one cup of rice, but if you’re extra hungry, add more rice to taste. And yes, it can be doubled.

Side view of a bowl of turmeric fried rice with greens topped with a fried egg. Chopped kale, tomatores and chickpeas are mixed in with the rice. Silverware and a linen are to the left. A second bowl of turmeric fried rice with greens is in partial view to the right.
Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko

What Is the Best Rice for Fried Rice?

The best rice for fried rice remains the same: leftover cooked rice. I prefer basmati rice, but you can use any rice you have on hand, including brown rice. Leftover rice usually dries out a little, so the grains stay separate when you stir-fry them.

If you don’t have cooked rice on hand, make it with a little bit less water—for one cup of rice, you could subtract two tablespoons from the amount of water recommended in the cooked rice recipe. Be sure to let it steam for 10 minutes after cooking so the grains separate, and the rice isn’t clumpy.

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric, like ginger, is a flowering plant, with rhizomes (thick root stalks) that are used fresh, or dried and ground into powder.

It is bright yellow with an earthy, sometimes bitter flavor and is often a component of curry powder. It has been used throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East for centuries.

The bright color can stain your hands and your aprons, so be prepared to handle with care or treat stains by dabbing with a solution of cool water and soap. Even better, soak linens or dishtowels in a mild bleach solution or white vinegar for 20 minutes or longer as soon as you notice the stain. Then wash in cool water and soap.

Side view of two shallow bowls with easy turmeric fried rice inside. Chopped kale, chickpeas and tomatoes are mixed in with the rice. A fork is set in the rice. The bowl in the upper portion of the photo has a fried egg on top.
Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko

Swaps and Substitutions

If you don’t have kale, you could substitute just about any sturdy leafy green you have in your fridge. Stir in leftover vegetables like broccoli or zucchini, or add grated carrots or cabbage if that’s what you have. Like most fried rice recipes, this one is adaptable to what you have on hand.

Tips for Fried Rice Ahead of Time

The rice will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend freezing this dish since it loses some of its verve, but if you do, let it cool completely before packaging it in airtight freezer bags.

Remove it from the freezer and steam it in a container with a lid set askew in the microwave.

More Great Fried Rice Recipes

Turmeric Fried Rice With Eggs and Kale

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 2 servings

This recipe uses leftover cooked rice. If you don’t have any on hand, please allow time for cooking a fresh batch of rice, but with slightly less water than your rice recipe calls for.

Recipe is easily doubled for more servings.

Ingredients

  • For the rice:
  • 1/2 bunch Lacinato or dino kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup rinsed and drained chickpeas (about half of a 15-ounce can)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 to 2 cups cooked basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • For the eggs:
  • 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper

Method

  1. Finely slice the kale:

    On a cutting board, stack the kale leaves and cut across them to finely shred them, including the thinner stems. Set aside.

    Kale being chopped on a white cutting board with a chef's knife set next to it.
    Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko
  2. Sauté the onions and spices:

    In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the chopped onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, and turmeric. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, or until aromatic.

    Chopped ginger and onion sauteed in a cast iron skillet to make vegetable fried rice with turmeric.
    Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko
  3. Cook the kale:

    Add 1/4 cup water, kale, and the salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kale wilts.

    Chopped kale in a skillet to make turmeric fried rice with greens.
    Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko
    Chopped ginger and kale sauteing in a skillet to make turmeric fried rice with kale.
    Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko
  4. Stir in the rice:

    Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cooked rice, and lemon juice to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until hot. Taste and add more salt, if you’d like. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and set aside while you fry the eggs.

    Skillet with tomatoes, kale, chickpeas and golden rice.
    Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko
  5. Cook the eggs:

    In a non-stick skillet with a lid, over low heat, melt the butter or heat the oil. Break the eggs into the skillet and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until all but a thin rim of egg white around each yolk is opaque. Remove the pan from the heat, keep covered, and let sit for about 30 seconds to finish cooking. (See here for more details.)

    Two eggs frying in a skillet to top easy turmeric fried rice.
    Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko
  6. Serve:

    Divide the fried rice between 2 bowls. Top each with a fried egg if desired, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.