There's so much flavor in this curried rice salad! It's great for make-ahead meal prep lunches or as an easy side dish. It also happens to be vegan and gluten free.
This curried rice salad recipe is a keeper! I mean, who doesn't love a salad that can be made ahead for the week's lunches and is filled to the brim with vegetables, fresh herbs, nuts and dried fruit?! And let's not forget the tangy curry dressing that pulls the flavors together.
If you're a meal prep enthusiast, I highly recommend adding this one to the list, along with a couple of my other favorite salads - lentil tabbouleh and chopped broccoli salad, for starters. I make all three of these on Sunday, then serve myself a mixed salad plate at lunchtime for the rest of the week.
It's like having the most amazing salad bar, right in your own house.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS BROWN RICE SALAD:
These are the main ingredients needed for this recipe (affiliate links included)…
- RICE: I like to use brown basmati rice for this recipe. Other long-grain brown rice, such as jasmine, would also work. Feel free to substitute with white basmati rice, if preferred.
- CHICKPEAS: Use canned chickpeas, or cook them yourself, starting with dried chickpeas. If using canned, drain them into a fine-mesh sieve or colander, then rinse well and drain again. One can holds approximately 1 ⅔ cups cooked chickpeas.
- CUCUMBER: Look for English cucumber in the grocery store. It does not need to be peeled or seeded. They typically are sold wrapped in a plastic film.
- HERBS: Fresh herbs add so much flavor to this rice salad! Use minced flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, fresh mint leaves and green onions (scallions).
- ALMONDS: Slivered almonds are typically sold in small bags in the baking aisle. Toast them in a dry skillet. If you don’t have slivered almonds, use sliced almonds or substitute with a different type of nut. Cashews, pistachios and hazelnuts are all good options.
- CHERRIES: Look for dried tart cherries, which are sometimes labeled as “Montmorency dried cherries”. Currants, raisins or dried cranberries are good substitutes.
- DRESSING: The dressing is a combination of apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, agave nectar, curry powder, ground coriander, ginger, garlic and salt. The spices can be found in the baking aisle in any grocery store. Grate the ginger and garlic on a zester.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
💙What’s to love about this cold rice salad:
▪️Healthy & plant-based: This vegan salad is packed with so much goodness, from the whole grain rice to fresh veggies and herbs to nuts and fruit. It also happens to be gluten-free.
▪️Versatile: Serve it as a light lunch on its own or on a bed of spinach. Or serve it as a side dish alongside red lentil dal or vegetable curry quinoa bowl (swap it for the quinoa).
▪️Meal prep: This is one of my favorite salads to make at the beginning of the week. Leftovers tide me over for lunches for the rest of the week.
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How to make curried rice salad:
- Before cooking the rice, give it a good rinse. Pour the rice into a fine-mesh sieve and run cold water over it, giving the rice a bit of a shake to soak all the grains.
- Transfer the rice to a medium saucepan and add 2 cups water (cold). Cook according to the package directions. Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork and allow it to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Lightly toast the slivered almonds in a small skillet set over medium heat. Watch them carefully because these little suckers like to burn as soon as you turn your back! I set a kitchen timer for every 1 to 2 minutes to remind myself to check on them.
- Stir the chickpeas (rinsed!), cucumber, green onions, cherries, almonds, parsley and mint into the rice.
- For the dressing, whisk together all of the ingredients except for the olive oil. Grate the fresh ginger and garlic clove directly into the dressing, using a zester. This gives the ginger and garlic a really fine texture that practically melts into the dressing.
- While whisking the dressing, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
- Pour the dressing into the rice mixture and toss to coat. Serve it up or cover the salad and store it in the refrigerator.
I like to use long-grain whole grain rice for this recipe. Brown basmati rice is my first choice, but brown jasmine rice is another good option. Feel free to substitute with white rice varieties, if preferred.
I recommend sticking with long-grain rice for salads because the grains contain less starch than short grain varieties, and stay separated when cooked.
Try swapping in orange, yellow or red bell pepper. Other good options are halved grape or cherry tomatoes, roasted eggplant and diced carrot. I’m not a fan of raw onion, but if that’s your thing, add some finely diced red onion.
Add fresh cilantro in addition to or instead of the parsley.
Substitute currants, raisins or dried cranberries for the dried cherries. Instead of slivered almonds, try cashews, pistachios or hazelnuts. Swap in cannellini beans (white kidney beans) for the chickpeas.
In place of apple cider vinegar, try fresh lime juice, lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes! In fact, I like it even better the second day. The rice does soak up the dressing. So, if you’re serving the salad the next day, make a little extra dressing to toss with the salad before serving.
Store the rice in an airtight container, such as this one, and refrigerate for up to 4 to 5 days. Be sure to start with very fresh herbs and firm cucumber.
If preferred, swap in white rice, such as white basmati or white jasmine. The fiber content of the salad won’t be as high, but it will taste just as good!
Curried Rice Salad
- 1 cup uncooked brown basmati rice (See Note 1)
- 2 cups water
- 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped English cucumber unpeeled (See Note 2)
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup dried cherries (See Note 3)
- ¼ cup slivered almonds toasted in a dry skillet
- ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 5 mint leaves thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar
- 1 garlic clove grated on a zester/microplane
- 1 ¼ inch piece ginger peeled & grated on a zester/microplane
- 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Place the rice in a fine mesh sieve. Rinse and drain well.
- Place the rice and water in a medium saucepan. Cook according to package directions. Fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.
- Add the chickpeas, cucumber, green onions, dried cherries, almonds, parsley and mint into the rice. Stir to combine.
- Pour the dressing into the rice mixture. Stir to combine.
- Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- In a bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, garlic, ginger, curry powder, ground coriander and salt.
- While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
I served this with grilled chicken last night. So tasty and easy to make!