Making perfect Pilau Rice is super easy! No curry would be complete without a generous helping of this golden fragrant rice dish. Make it on the hob or your Instant Pot.
Make your curry night complete with my Easy Flatbreads!
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Easy Pilau Rice
Curry lovers will of course be familiar with Pilau Rice – this golden rice, fragrant with spices, is a must whenever you order takeaway or dine at an Indian restaurant.
But guess what? Making pilau rice at home is incredibly easy and if you follow my foolproof method you will always have perfect results whether cooking on the hob or the Instant Pot.
What type of rice is suitable for Pilau?
Basmati rice is my first choice whenever I make this recipe – and you don’t even have to rinse it first! If you can’t find any Basmati, then you can use white long grain rice.
How much rice per person?
This will depend on how hungry (or greedy!) you are! Half a cup (100g) or rice per person is about right, but you can always make a bigger batch if you like.
The ratio of rice to water/stock is an easy one to remember: simply use twice the volume of your rice. In this recipe I used 300g / 1 ½ cups rice and 600ml / 2 ½ cups vegetable stock. This makes enough to serve four as a side dish.
What Goes Into Pilau Rice?
Other than the rice you will need a few spices, some hot stock and onions – though these are totally optional. You will need a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid (Dutch Oven) for this recipe. I love my GreenPan which has all the benefits of cast iron but none of the weight!
- Butter or Ghee – or dairy free spread for a vegan version
- Basmati rice (white)
- Ground Turmeric – this will give pilau its vibrant golden colour
- Cardamom pods – give these a little bash before using!
- Bay leaf (forgot it in photo – oops!)
- Cinnamon stick
- Yellow onion, sliced – leave out if preferred
- Vegetable stock for a vegetarian/vegan version or chicken stock – from a stockpot or cube
HOW TO MAKE PILAU RICE
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
Melt the butter / vegan spread over low heat in a medium pot.
Add the turmeric, salt, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and stir to combine.
Stir in the sliced onion, if using, and bay leaf.
Cover the pot and sweat the onion over low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned.
Add the rice and stir to coat in the spices and onion.
Stir in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot tightly and continue to cook over the lowest heat setting for 10 minutes, without stirring. After 10 minutes all or most of the liquid should be absorbed.
Take the pot off the heat but leave the lid on for another 10 minutes – the residual steam will cook your rice to perfection.
Open the pot and fluff the rice up with a fork. Discard the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Serve with your favourite curry!
INSTANT POT PILAU RICE
Select “Sauté” press Adjust / Less. Melt the butter / vegan spread and add all the spices, salt, bay leaf and onion. Stir to combine.
Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat in the spices. Add the stock and cover the Instant Pot, set vent to “Sealing”. Select the “Rice” setting or cook on LOW PRESSURE for 12 minutes.
Release the steam manually and immediately remove the inner pot from the pressure cooker (otherwise the rice will continue to cook and may stick).
Fluff the rice up with a fork. Discard the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods and serve straight away.
SLIMMING FRIENDLY PILAU RICE
Rice is free on Slimming World so this recipe can complete your fave fakeaway curry with some minor modifications.
Either allow a few syns by using Flora Light (only around 1 per serving) instead of butter or use Fry light and a little stock to sweat the onions and continue with the recipe as written – see the recipe card for further instructions.
STORING PILAU RICE
Keep in the fridge for up to a day and make sure you reheat very thoroughly before serving.
Alternatively freeze the cooled pilau rice and reheat in the microwave straight from frozen or thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in a saucepan. Do not reheat rice more than once.
Pilau rice (or yellow rice as my son used to call it when he was little) is the perfect side dish for all curry dishes! Here are some of my favourite recipes – make sure to also include my easy yogurt flatbreads on the side.
- Lamb Rogan Josh or Chicken Rogan if you prefer!
- Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Curry or Crockpot Beef Curry
- Healthy Chicken Jalfrezi
- Prawn Dhansak
- Persian Lamb Stew (pictured below)
Perfect Pilau Rice
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter or dairy free spread for vegan version
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 yellow onion sliced (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 300 g (1 ½ cups) white basmati rice
- 600 ml (2 ½ cups) hot vegetable stock or chicken stock
Pilau Rice on the Hob
- Heat a tablespoon of butter in a lidded pot. Stir in the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, turmeric and salt. Stir to allow the spices to infuse the butter.
- Add the onion, if using. Stir to coat in the spices then cover the pot and cook very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add the basmati rice (no need to rinse) to the pot and stir to coat in the fragrant butter.
- Add hot vegetable stock, stir once then cover the pot tightly and reduce heat to lowest setting. Leave to cook for 10 minutes without opening the pot.
- Remove the lid and check the rice – almost all of the liquid should have been absorbed. Stir once with a gentle folding action.
- Take the pot off the heat, cover with the lid and leave for another ten minutes for soft fluffy rice.
- Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom pods. Season to taste and serve with your favourite curry.
Instant Pot Pilau Rice
- Select “Sauté” press Adjust / Less. Melt the butter / vegan spread and add all the spices, salt, bay leaf and onion. Stir to combine.
- Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat in the spices. Add the stock and cover the Instant Pot, set vent to “Sealing”. Select the “Rice” setting or cook on LOW PRESSURE for 12 minutes.
- Release the steam manually and immediately remove the inner pot from the pressure cooker (otherwise the rice will continue to cook and may stick).
- Fluff the rice up with a fork. Discard the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods and serve straight away.
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