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This Turmeric Ginger Congee is infused with fresh ginger and warm Indian spices, then served with crispy mushrooms and tofu. Make it in the Instant Pot or on the stove for cozy winter meals! Vegan, Gluten-Free.
This Vegan Congee Recipe is infused with ginger and turmeric, given a burst of flavor from a tadka (spiced-infused oil), and served with crispy baked mushrooms and hearty tofu on top. The coziest Chinese and Indian fusion dish, enjoy it for warming dinners and nourishing lunches!
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What is Congee?
Congee is one of my new favorite comfort foods that I discovered when playing around with recipes from a Chinese cookbook. It’s essentially an Asian rice pudding* made by cooking rice in lots of water (way more than usual!). I can’t get over its ridiculously silky and porridge-like consistency. It’s usually served for breakfast in East Asia (plain or topped with protein, green onions, sesame oil, and/or chili oil), but this Turmeric Ginger Congee recipe is a Chinese-Indian fusion that’s hearty and savory, making for a cozy lunch or dinner. (*Note: many Asian cultures feature their own variation of congee, but I first came across it in my exploration of Chinese cuisine).
In a quest to create a cozy and comforting winter-friendly recipe I combined two of my favorite things: congee and warm Indian spices. The congee is infused with turmeric and ginger, then finished with a tadka (Indian spices tempered in oil) to highlight the delicate flavor notes that can be lost during long cooking times. Crispy mushrooms and baked tofu are my toppings of choice and I know you’ll love them, too!
Best of all, making this white rice porridge is fuss-free. Use your Instant Pot or the stove to make the congee, then bake the mushrooms and tofu. The result is a filling meal to indulge in for lazy weekends, meal prep, or after a long day.
Ingredients for Turmeric Ginger Congee
You’ll need a handful of basic ingredients and Indian spices to make this savory Chinese-Indian rice porridge:
- Rice: White jasmine rice is key for the ultimate silky smooth consistency! You can buy jasmine rice at almost any well-stocked grocery store or Asian grocery store.
- Turmeric: A sprinkle of ground turmeric is the source of the gorgeous golden color in this congee.
- Ginger: Use freshly peeled ginger here. It gives the rice porridge a bright pop of flavor that you typically won’t get from ground ginger.
- Mushrooms: I’d recommend using a mushroom mix for a variety of umami flavors and textures. Fresh shiitake, oyster, cremini, and/or brown beech mushrooms are my favorites, but any mix will do.
- Tofu: Opt for super firm tofu or extra firm tofu. They’ve both got a meaty texture that makes the congee nice and hearty!
- Oil: Use any high-heat oil, like avocado oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil, to bloom the Indian spices for the tadka (it’s how we bring out their amazing hidden flavors!).
- Aromatics and spices: I used a blend of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, a cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, a dried chili pepper, and garlic cloves for the Indian tadka. You can buy most or all of these spices at your local Indian grocery store, but keep in mind that the cinnamon, fennel, and pepper are all optional, so feel free to leave them out if you can’t find them!
How to Make Turmeric Ginger Congee
- Cook the rice with the turmeric, ginger, salt, and water either in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop until thick and creamy.
- Meanwhile, toss the mushrooms in salt and oil, then lay them on one half of a baking sheet. Toss the tofu with salt, garlic powder, and oil, then lay on the other half of the baking sheet.
- Bake until the mushrooms are golden and crisp.
- Warm the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Bloom the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cinnamon, and pepper in the shimmering oil for 45 to 60 seconds. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
- Pour the tadka into the congee and stir to combine.
- Serve the congee in bowls and top with tofu, crispy mushrooms, sliced green onions, and cilantro. Enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Rinse the rice under cold running water until the water runs clear. This removes any excess dirt from the grains and guarantees a congee that isn’t sticky or gloopy!
- Adjust the consistency of the congee. Personally, I like congee to be silky smooth, just like oatmeal or porridge. If you prefer a thinner consistency, cook the rice in 7 or 8 cups of water instead. For a thicker congee, use only 5 cups of water.
- Thinly slice the mushrooms. The thinner the slices, the crispier your mushrooms will be! Just keep a close eye on them in the oven so they don’t burn.
Congee topped with mushrooms and tofu is hearty enough to enjoy on its own for lunch or dinner, but I’d recommend finishing each bowl with green onions, cilantro, and a drizzle of chili oil on top to round out the flavors. If you’re craving some additional sides, pair each serving with a cup of chai, this Smashed Cucumber Salad, or these Garlic Green Beans for more nourishing goodness.
How to Store Vegan Congee
Once infused with tadka and finished with toppings, the Instant Pot vegan congee is best served immediately, as the consistency will thicken as it cools. If you plan on saving the leftovers, keep the congee, tadka, mushrooms, and tofu in separate airtight containers and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheat the leftover congee in the microwave or a saucepan on the stove over medium heat, stirring often, until it’s heated through. The congee becomes thicker as it cools but stirring in a splash of vegetable stock or water will help thin it. Freezing is not recommended.
White jasmine rice is best for congee, but you can use another variety of starchy long-grain or medium-grain rice. Note that basmati rice does not work for congee because it isn’t starchy enough. You can even use brown rice, although the consistency will be a bit different.
Plain congee, made with just rice and water, can taste pretty bland. That’s why it’s common to see congee recipes flavored with simple ingredients, like spices, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, vegetable broth, soy sauce, etc.
Technically, the rice is cooked a lot longer than usual to break down the grains and achieve the signature creamy consistency, but congee is so much more than just overcooked rice. Just like oatmeal, it’s thick and porridge-like, with so much room for extra flavors and toppings!
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Turmeric Ginger Congee with Crispy Mushrooms
For the Congee:
For the Toppings:
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 420F and set a large baking sheet aside.
- Cook the Congee: Add the rice to a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.
- Instant Pot: Add to the Instant Pot with the turmeric, ginger, salt, and water. Close the lid, move the pressure valve to Sealing, and cook on Manual High Pressure for 15 Minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before manually releasing the rest. I like to give the congee a few vigorous stirs with a spoon to help break up the rice a bit more.
- Stovetop: Add the rice to a large pot with the turmeric, ginger, salt, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 60 to 70 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water to the pot as necessary if the congee gets too thick for your liking.
- Crispy Mushrooms & Tofu: Add the sliced mushrooms to a large bowl with a generous pinch of salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. Toss well, then transfer to one half of the baking sheet. Add the tofu to the same bowl with another pinch of salt, the garlic powder, and the remaining oil; toss until evenly coated, then transfer to the other half of the baking sheet. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 30 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden and crisp on the edges.
- Tadka: Once the congee is fully cooked, warm the oil in a small pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds along with the cinnamon and chili, if using. Let the spices bloom in the oil for 45 to 60 seconds, then add in the minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the tadka directly into the congee, stirring well until it is evenly distributed. (You can remove the cinnamon and chili at this time, or choose to eat around them). Season with additional salt to taste, if necessary.
- Assemble and Serve: Divide the congee between serving bowls, then top with tofu, crispy mushrooms, sliced green onions, and optional cilantro. Serve warm; leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, though I recommend storing the congee and toppings separately.
- Mushrooms: I like to use a mix of shiitake, oyster, cremini, and/or brown beech mushrooms. Any mix will do, just make sure to slice them relatively thinly!