Substitutes for Rice in Curry (11 Delicious Choices)

substitutes for rice in curry

Rice is the most common and traditional accompaniment to curry. However, some people may be looking for alternatives to rice, either due to dietary restrictions or to switch things up. Fortunately, there are a variety of substitutes for rice to serve with curry.

I cook rice frequently in my household, complementing various curries such as chicken, vegetables, or pork curry.

But at the same time, I also recognize the importance of moderation and the need for alternatives. I often choose other accompaniments to my curry in order to create a varied and balanced meal.

In this blog post, we’ll explore nutritious alternatives to rice, allowing you to enjoy your favorite curries without compromising taste.

Understanding Rice and Its Role in Curry

Rice and curry is a staple food in many parts of the world and plays an important role by providing a neutral base that helps to balance out the curry’s flavors and textures.

Rice not only serves as a culinary staple but also provides a valuable source of carbohydrates and energy. The amount of carbohydrates and calories in rice can differ based on the rice variety and its preparation.

Whether you prefer fluffy basmati, sticky jasmine, or nutty brown rice, each adds its special touch. Curry, with its delicious aromas and tasty sauces, makes rice even more enjoyable to eat.

Here are the grain based and vegetables based substitutes for rice in curry.

When it comes to curries, rice is a classic accompaniment. However, for those looking for a change or want to try something new, several popular grain-based rice substitutes can be used.

1. Quinoa

quinoa - substitutes for rice in curry

Quinoa is a popular substitute for rice due to its high protein content and nutty flavor. It is also gluten-free, making it a great option for those with gluten sensitivities. Quinoa can be cooked similarly to rice and is a great addition to curries.

2. Couscous

couscous - substitute for rice in curry

Semolina flour, or couscous, is popular in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. It adds a unique touch to various dishes. The beauty of couscous lies in its quick and easy cooking process, making it a convenient choice for a rice substitute.

3. Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur wheat, a whole grain widely enjoyed in Middle Eastern cuisine, has a nutty flavor and a satisfying chewy texture. Not only does bulgur wheat bring a unique taste to dishes, but it also offers notable health benefits. High in fiber and protein, bulgur wheat is a nutritious substitute for rice.

4. Barley

barley - substitute for rice in curry

Barley is a nutritious grain that is often used in soups and stews. Barley is high in fiber and protein, making it a great option for those looking for a healthy substitute for rice.

5. Brown Rice

brown rice- substitute for rice in curry

Brown rice is also a great option for those looking for a healthy substitute for rice. They are high in fiber and protein and can be used in various dishes, including curries.

6. Rye

Rye is a type of grain that is commonly used in bread. There is a slightly sour flavor to it, and it is chewy in texture. It is high in fiber and protein, making it a great option for those looking for a healthy substitute for rice.

Overall, several popular grain-based rice substitutes can be used in curries. Whether you are looking for a healthy option or a convenient option, there is a substitute that will work for you.

7. Millet

If you’re looking for something to add a bit of crunch to your curry dish, millet might be the other option. Although it may not be the most popular grain, millet is filled with a variety of health benefits as well as a unique, nutty flavor.

Millet is not only low in fat and cholesterol but also an excellent source of fiber, making it a great choice for those looking to keep their diets as healthy as possible.

Vegetable-Based Substitutes For Rice In Curry

When it comes to exploring alternatives to rice in curry, vegetables emerge as a fantastic option. Not only do they contribute to a healthy diet, but they also bring a wide array of flavors and textures to your dish.

Here are some vegetable-based rice substitutes for curries.

8. Cauliflower Rice

cauliflower rice - substitute for rice in curry

Cauliflower rice is quickly becoming the go-to alternative to regular rice when it comes to eating with curry. As a low-carbohydrate option, it’s the perfect way to satisfy your craving for a delicious curry and your body’s need for healthy carbs.

It is made by grating cauliflower into small pieces that resemble rice grains. Cauliflower rice has a mild flavor that pairs well with curries.

9. Sweet Potato Rice

Sweet potato can be used as a rice substitute. It is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Sweet potato rice can be made by grating or shredding the sweet potato and then cooking it in a pan with some oil until it is soft and fluffy.

10. Broccoli Rice

Broccoli rice is another vegetable-based rice substitute. It is made by grating or pulsing broccoli florets into small pieces. Broccoli rice has a slightly nutty flavor that goes well with curries. It is also low in carbs and high in fiber.

11. Extra Vegetables

roasted vegetables

Finally, you can also add extra vegetables to your curry instead of rice. Some great options include roasted vegetables. These vegetables will add flavor, texture, and nutrients to your dish.

Serving Suggestions For Curry With Rice Substitutes

#. Bread


  • Bread is a popular alternative to rice. Naan bread or roti is a traditional Indian flatbread perfect for soaking up the sauce. It has a soft and smooth texture that goes hand in hand with the wonderful spices in curry. Its mild flavor helps bring out the deliciousness of the curry even more.
  • Pita bread is a great option for Middle Eastern and African curries. It has a similar texture to naan bread and can be used to scoop up the curry sauce.

#. Salad


  • A fresh salad can provide a refreshing contrast to the warm and spicy curry. A simple cucumber and tomato salad with a lemon dressing is a great option. It adds a crisp texture and a tangy flavor to the meal.
  • A side of chutney/pickle can also be served with the salad to add some sweetness and heat.

Health Considerations When Choosing Rice Substitutes

When selecting rice substitutes, it’s essential to consider their health implications and benefits. While rice can be nutritious, some alternatives better suit certain dietary needs or health goals.

Here are a few health considerations to keep in mind:

  • Carbohydrate Content:
    • Rice is a significant source of carbohydrates, providing energy to the body. However, if you’re following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, you might opt for substitutes with lower carbohydrate content, such as cauliflower rice.
  • Fiber Content:
    • Brown rice is known for its higher fiber content than white rice. If you’re aiming to increase your fiber intake for improved digestion and overall health, consider alternatives like quinoa, bulgur wheat, or barley, which also offer notable fiber content.
  • Nutritional Profile:
    • Different rice substitutes have varying nutrient profiles. For instance, quinoa is a complete protein source, making it an ideal choice for vegetarians and vegans. Incorporating diverse substitutes like lentils, chickpeas, or amaranth can also provide a range of essential nutrients.


With so many substitutes to rice, you can explore a variety of flavors and textures to find the most suitable substitute for your next curry dish.

Quinoa and cauliflower rice bring distinct flavors that complement curries perfectly, while couscous and barley provide a delightful change in taste.

Experiment with different ingredients to find a substitute that suits your preferences and dietary needs.

Hi, I'm Jeena, and I'm the author of Chaos of Flavor, a food blog dedicated to my love for cooking.  As someone who is deeply rooted in Nepalese culture, I enjoy sharing my passion for Nepalese cuisine through my recipes, including fusion recipes, which you'll find plenty of on my blog. Join me on my blog to stay up-to-date with my latest recipes :)