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Purple rice (red cabbage rice)

Purple rice is a garlicky, butter rice side that owes its vibrant colour to red cabbage! Love this 2-in-1 that combines starch plus plenty of vegetables in one dish, rather than making a salad plus a starch separately. Goes with everything – Western, Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican!

Overhead photo of Purple rice

Purple rice

You know those nights where you feel all smug because you got ahead on the weekend and marinated some chicken so you could whip up a “quick dinner” during the week, only to realise you didn’t plan for sides to fill out the meal?

Well, today’s recipe is just the sort of thing that will save you. It’s one of those side dishes I call a two-in-one because it includes plenty of vegetables as well as a starch to fill out the meal. As opposed to making two sides, like mashed potato plus a garden salad.

What it tastes like: Buttery and garlicky, and very mild cabbage flavour actually which will appeal to people who don’t jump up and down at the mention of cabbage for dinner. Bonus: it’s such a fun colour!!!

Cooked Purple rice in pot
Pot of freshly cooked purple rice.

Ingredients in purple rice

Here’s what you need to make this colourful, veg loaded rice!

Purple rice ingredients
  • Jasmine rice – I like using jasmine rice in this dish because you get that lovely subtle fragrance.

    Other rice – the recipe will work with long grain rice, medium grain rice and basmati rice, though you will need an extra 1/4 cup of water or vegetable stock/broth. This is because jasmine rice requires less liquid to cook than other varieties of rice (more on this in my plain jasmine rice recipe!).

    The recipe is not suited to brown rice, arborio/risotto rice, paella rice, wild rice or faux rice (cauliflower rice, quinoa etc) as the cook times and methods differ so I’d need to alter the recipe.

  • Red cabbage – Also called purple cabbage, this is what gives the rice the vibrant purple hue! You can use plain ole’ green cabbage if you want, but where’s the fun in that?? 😎

  • Garlic and onion – Flavour base aromatics. You will adore the butter garlic flavour in this rice!

  • Butter – As above, for promised buttery flavour! You’ll be surprised how buttery it tastes even though we’re only using 30 grams / 2 tablespoons of butter.

  • Vegetable stock – The rice cooking liquid, tastier than water! Use low sodium stock. If yours is full salt, skip the salt in the recipe.

  • Salt and pepper – Seasoning for the rice.

  • Green onion – For fresh garnish at the end, though I wouldn’t say it’s critical.

No need to rinse your rice!

There is no need to rinse the jasmine rice to wash off excess starch to make the rice fluffy. This is a myth. You just need the correct liquid-to-rice-ratio which is 1.25 : 1 (1.25 cups of water to 1 cup of rice) and the rice will be fluffy even without washing it. Most recipes get it wrong, using way too much water.

The only reason to wash jasmine rice is if you’re worried about the rice being dirty. If you bought yours at the supermarket, you shouldn’t need to clean it. If you clean your rice, reduce the stock by 2 tablespoons to account for the waterlogged rice.

How to make purple rice

One big, fat rice-making rule that applies to ANY rice you cook: DO NOT STIR, DO NOT PEEK once your put the lid on the pot! Unless, of course, you like your rice unevenly cooked, gluey and mushy. 🤷🏻‍♀️

How to make purple rice
  1. Use a large saucepan or small pot, around the size of mine which is 28cm/11″. If you use a saucepan that is too small (~20cm/8″) then the rice-cabbage mixture will be too deep which will cause the rice to cook unevenly.

    Sauté the garlic and onion in the butter until it smells amazing / onion is translucent. Then cook the cabbage for a few minutes until it starts to soften (rather than being stiff and pokey). Don’t let it get completely wilted and soft because it will cook more with the rice.

  2. Add rice and stir to coat in the garlic butter.

How to make purple rice
  1. Add stock then scrape down the sides and push the cabbage-rice under the surface of the liquid, as best you can. The main thing is that you want all the rice under the liquid. A few grains poking above the surface will be fine, they will steam-cook.

  2. Cook 12 minutes – Bring the liquid to a simmer, then put the lid on and lower the heat to medium low, or low if your burner is very strong. Leave to cook undisturbed for 12 minutes. Do not lift the lid to peek and most definitely do not stir! That will disrupt the rice cooking and you’ll end up with unevenly cooked rice that’s mushy and gluey.

    Check – At the 12 minute mark, working quickly, remove the lid and tilt the saucepan to ensure all the liquid has been absorbed. If it has not, leave it on the stove for another minute or two.

  3. Rest 10 minutes – Remove the saucepan from the stove with the lid still on and rest for 10 minutes. Never skip the rice resting step! The rice will finish cooking and the liquid on the surface of each rice grain gets absorbed = fluffy rice.

  4. Fluff then serve, garnished with a sprinkle of green onion!

Purple rice in a bowl

What to serve with purple rice

This cabbage rice is fairly neutral flavoured, with a lovely buttery, garlic flavour. Which means it will go with pretty much any dish, and any cuisine, both Western and Asian.

While the possibilities are endless, here’s a starting point for you – some quick mains that I’d serve alongside purple rice:

And of course, it goes without saying that your purple rice will taste even better if you serenade it with Prince’s Purple Rain while it’s steaming on the stove. 🎶 Go on, do it. You know I did!! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Overhead photo of Purple rice

Purple rice


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Recipe video above. Purple rice is a garlicky, butter rice side that owes its vibrant colour to red cabbage! Love this 2-in-1 that combines starch plus plenty of vegetables in one dish, rather than making a salad plus a starch separately. Goes with everything – Western, Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican!


  • Melt butter in a large saucepan or small pot over medium heat. (Note 3)

  • Sauté veg – Cook onion and garlic for 1 minute until soft. Add cabbage, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the cabbage starts to soften but not completely floppy (as it will cook more with the rice).

  • Coat rice – Add rice and stir well to coat in the flavour.

  • Add the vegetable stock. Scrape down the sides and press the cabbage-rice mixture down so all the rice is submerged.

  • Cook 12 minutes – Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid, turn the stove down to medium low (or low on a stronger burner) and cook for 12 minutes. Do not peek or stir!

  • Rest 10 minutes – Turn off the heat, remove the saucepan from the stove and let to rest for another 10 minutes (with the lid on).

  • Fluff & serve – Use a rubber spatula or rice paddle to fluff the rice then tumble into a serving dish. Sprinkle with green onion and serve!

Recipe Notes:

1. Rice types – Recipe will also work with long grain, basmati and medium grain rice BUT you need to increase the stock by 1/4 cup (60ml), because jasmine rice needs slightly less liquid to cook through. (See plain jasmine rice recipe for more info.)
Rinsing – Not required to prevent rice from being mushy because this recipe uses the right water-to-rice-ratio for jasmine rice (which is 1 cup rice to 1 1/4 cups water). Most recipes get it wrong = mushy rice. Also no need to rinse to clean rice if purchased in a packet at the supermarket as it will be clean. If you do need to wash the rice to clean it then shake excess water off very well and reduce stock by 2 tablespoons (to account for waterlogged rice).
2. Liquid – stock will make this rice tastier. If using using water, add 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube (dissolved) or 1 tsp stock powder.
3. Cooking vessel size matters! Use a large saucepan, mine is 28cm/11″ wide, use one around this size. Don’t make this in a small one (~20cm/8″ wide) because the rice-cabbage mixture will be too deep for the rice cook evenly.
4. Leftover rice will keep for 2 days. Freezing will work but the cabbage will go a tad watery though if you toss through well this shouldn’t be a problem.
Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 206cal (10%)Carbohydrates: 36g (12%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 5g (8%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 13mg (4%)Sodium: 486mg (21%)Potassium: 211mg (6%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 3g (3%)Vitamin A: 928IU (19%)Vitamin C: 33mg (40%)Calcium: 45mg (5%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Life of Dozer

What do you think – will he spit it out?? 😂

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