My quick and easy plain pilau rice recipe brings the authentic taste of an Indian takeaway to your home.
The best part? It takes less than 30 minutes to make! Pair it with your favourite curry for a mouth-watering Indian feast.
Curry night is a favourite in our household, and the kids always request pilau rice to go with it.
To save some money, I've created this plain pilau rice recipe that you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen, bringing that authentic Indian taste to your next curry night at home.
On our Indian feast nights, we like to mix it up with a variety of curries, including a creamy halloumi curry, mango chutney chicken curry, keema matar (beef and pea curry), a vegan chickpea and spinach curry, homemade naan bread, and also this authentic pilau rice.
👩🍳 Have you seen my easy turmeric rice? Another easy rice dish that's great with curries!
✔️ Why should you try it?
- Pilau rice is a flavourful and aromatic rice dish that brings a unique blend of spices and herbs to your plate.
- With a simple recipe and basic ingredients, pilau rice is easy to make, even for beginner cooks.
- It pairs well with a variety of dishes, from curries to grilled meats and vegetables.
- Making it at home is an affordable way to enjoy a tasty side dish without the expense of ordering takeaway. It's also healthier too!
- Basmati rice
- Vegetable oil
- Cumin Seeds
- Cardamom pods
- Cinnamon stick
- Bay leaf
- Vegetable stock
A large lidded pan is needed to make authentic pilau rice. You will also need a heat-resistant jug for the vegetable stock.
How to cook perfect pilau rice
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post
One: Crack the cardamom pods with the flat edge of a knife and gently fry the cardamom pods, cloves, cumin seeds and turmeric in the vegetable oil for 1 minute to release their flavours.
Two: Add the rice and coat it in the spices.
Three: Pour over the stock, add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, then put a lid on the pan and turn down the heat to low.
Four: Let the rice cook for 25 minutes. Take the lid off and fluff up the rice grains with a fork before serving.
🍴 Serving suggestions
Curry and pilau rice go hand in hand, so I usually serve my homemade 'yellow rice' as the kids call it, with a mildly spiced chicken curry for the kids, a spicy chicken pathia for the adults, and also a tasty vegetarian curry like my halloumi curry or sweet potato and lentil curry. As you can see, we love an Indian feast!
- Replace the olive oil with butter or ghee if you prefer.
- To reduce the salt content of the rice, use boiling water in place of the vegetable stock.
- Add your favourite vegetables to the pilau rice, such as carrots, peas, beans, and peppers, for a colourful and nutritious dish.
- To make coloured pilau rice, add natural food colouring to the recipe. For example, you can use turmeric for yellow rice, beetroot for pink/red rice, or spinach for green rice.
- Use coconut milk instead of water to cook the rice for a creamy and tropical twist on the classic recipe.
- Add lemon zest and juice to the recipe for a fresh and zesty lemon rice that pairs well with seafood curries (try my king prawn masala).
The cooked pilau rice can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat the rice in the microwave until piping hot.
🧊 Suitable for freezing?
Place any leftover rice into microwaveable tubs with lids and place them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
You can reheat pilau rice straight from the freezer in the microwaveable tubs. Just make sure the rice is hot all the way through before serving it.
I usually give it a shake in the tub and pop it back in the microwave for a few more minutes to ensure it reaches an even temperature throughout.
Pilua rice's gorgeous yellowy colour comes from using turmeric (or sometimes saffron). It's also flavoured with other spices, including cardamom, cumin seeds, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
Pilau rice and plain boiled rice are both made with white basmati rice. Pilau rice is fried with a fat (usually ghee, oil or butter) and flavoured with Indian spices such as cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and bay leaves. Boiled rice is cooked in salted water and served with no additional flavourings.
Curries, grilled meat and fish, and vegetables are all popular accompaniments to pilau rice. You could also add leftover cooked meat (tandori chicken for example) and roasted veg to the pilau rice to make it a meal in itself.
Some delicious curry recipes to serve with pilau rice;
- Lamb Balti
- Chicken Pasanda
- Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
- Creamy Courgette Curry
- Slow Cooker Beef Curry
- Keema Matar
- Leftover Chicken Curry
Plain Pilau Rice Recipe
- Kitchen Scales
- Measuring Jug
- Measuring Spoons
- Shallow Casserole
- Chopping Board
- 1 tablespoon Vegetable oil or use butter
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 2 Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 4 Cardamom pods bruised with the flat of a knife
- 250 g Basmati rice
- 500 ml Vegetable stock
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 1 Bay Leaf
- In a pan (with a lid), heat the oil and fry the turmeric, cloves, cumin seeds and cardamom pods for 1 minute, to release their flavours.1 tablespoon Vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon Turmeric, 2 Cloves, 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds, 4 Cardamom pods
- Add the rice and stir to coat in the spices.250 g Basmati rice
- Pour in the vegetable stock, give it another stir and add the cinnamon and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, season with salt, then pop the lid on. Turn the heat down to low.500 ml Vegetable stock, 1 Cinnamon stick, 1 Bay Leaf
- Cook for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff up the rice with a fork. Replace the lid until you're ready to serve.