Easy Pilau Rice Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (or ghee for a more traditional flavor)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4-5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 2 ½ cups boiling water (chicken or vegetable stock provides extra flavor)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Aromatic Base: Heat the oil or butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  • Spice Infusion: Add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, ground turmeric, and bay leaf. Stir constantly for about 1 minute, until the spices become fragrant.
  • Toast the Rice: Add the basmati rice to the pan, stirring well to coat the grains in the spice mixture. Cook for a minute or two to lightly toast the rice.
  • Simmer: Carefully pour in the boiling water (or stock). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the pan tightly with a lid, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • Fluff and Rest: Remove the pan from heat. Let the rice rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes. This allows the steam to redistribute and the grains to fully cook without getting mushy. Fluff the rice gently with a fork before serving.


  • Rinse your rice: Rinsing the basmati rice before cooking removes excess starch and helps prevent the grains from sticking together.
  • Don’t lift the lid: Avoid peeking while the rice is cooking, or you’ll release steam and disrupt the cooking process.
  • Customize it: Add a cinnamon stick with the spices, or stir in fresh cilantro or parsley after cooking for varied flavors.
  • Make it a meal: Pilau rice is a delicious side dish for curries, roasted vegetables, or grilled meats.

Enjoy your flavorful and easy pilau rice!


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