Filipina In A Southern Kitchen

Turmeric Rice is the Better ‘Margarine Rice’

Turmeric Rice

Just to be clear this is not similar to the Indian Turmeric Rice because I want this to be the perfect canvas for Filipino Ulam (main dishes). I created this dish as a healthier option to the popular margarine rice that Filipino kids grew up with.

I guarantee that this rice will not make you tall

“Bida ang matangkad”  loosely translated as “The tall ones are heroes” used to be the selling point of the brand. But because of modern and inclusive communication trends, it has changed to something like “you can reach for your dreams” with a kid on a stepping stool reaching for the mini tub of margarine…but still using basketball stars as brand ambassadors.

Anyway, this rice will surely not help you grow an inch but it is packed with health benefits. Hello, turmeric. 

Turmeric & Rice

Turmeric has curcumin which is anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.  These are great for many things – boosts brain function, fights heart disease and cancer. However, turmeric only contains 3% curcumin, and the body doesn’t absorb curcumin very well. Important to note that if you accompany curcumin consumption with black pepper, curcumin is better absorbed by the body. I am not a health expert but I am positive that this is way better than a slather of just margarine, no?

Making this is as easy as preparing your regular steamed rice. I used basmati rice so the procedure is for that rice. Lately, it’s been my favorite rice grain.

If using a different type of rice, follow the package instructions for cooking. If it doesn’t call for soaking, don’t Thi  is a forgivable dish that you can just dump everything in the pot before cooking expect for the optional greens.  A knob of butter, which is optional is added after the rice is cooked. 

The Others are Extra, Make Your Own Version

Salt, garlic powder and whatever your herb of choice is really up to you. Butter if you want a richer flavor, and olive oil for the healthier option. If push comes to shove, this recipe will just need turmeric, rice and water. And you can still enjoy it with your favorite ulam (viand). I would totally eat this with Menudo, Adobo or Fish Wrapped in Leaves. 

The perfect canvass to your favorite Filipino dish or ulam.

Friendly Reminders 

Recipes are meant to be guides. My recipes will take you almost there… if not THERE.

Cook with your senses – taste, smell, look and feel.

And finally, cook often to develop your common cooking sense.

Let us connect!

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and also working my way on more YouTube videos.

Use #BeWithMia when you replicate the recipe so I can find you. I love to hear from you. 




Turmeric Rice (For Filipino Food)

Mia Estolano-Levert
This is the healthier option to the iconic Star Margarine rice that Filipino kids grew up with. The vibrant yellow color from the turmeric, just a tablespoon of butter, vibrant greens, and a tad bit of salt. This rice is still the perfect canvas for the hearty Filipino main dishes or ulam.
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Resting Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Filipino


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • handful of parsley or green onions optional


  • Rinse Basmati rice. Pour hot water. Add turmeric and salt. Mix and cover.
  • Let rice soak for 30 minutes.
  • Turn heat on. Once the water boils, lower heat to medium. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off heat. Remove from heat. And let it continue cooking through residual heat for 10 more minutes.
  • Add the butter or oil and fluff. Add the greens and fluff. Then serve with your favorite ulam.

Related Posts

How To Build A Bowl of Arroz Caldo | Turmeric Arroz Caldo

How To Build A Bowl of Arroz Caldo | Turmeric Arroz Caldo

  The Filipino Arroz Caldo (hot rice) is ginger-forward rice porridge with chicken. This creamy and hearty anytime-of-the-day bowl is served with a vibrant burst of freshness and umami condiments. This is such a reliable and flexible meal that it can transcend from warm breakfast bowl, […]

Tres Leches Ube Champorado with Crispy Dried Squid

Tres Leches Ube Champorado with Crispy Dried Squid

Tres Leches Ube Champorado with Crispy Dried Squid is an indulgent and fun take on the traditional Filipino Champorado. Think rice porridge with ube. The creamy comforting Champorado is drizzled with three types of milk: everyday milk, the usual suspect evaporated milk, and a generous sprinkle […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.