How to cook… Pilau Rice


Serves 4

Pilau Rice is go-to order for most people as an accompaniment for their curry. It’s easy to make restaurant-style rice by adding some onions and spices to the rice. It’s nice topped off with some browned, fried onions.

What you need
• 2 Tablespoons oil
• 300g basmati rice
• 1 medium-sized onion, sliced

Whole Spice Mix
• 3 cm long piece of cinnamon stick
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 3 cardamom seeds, cracked but still kept intact
• 2 bay leaves

How you make it
1. Wash the rice to remove the starch, then leave to soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain in a colander.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until it starts to brown (about 3-5 minutes). Remove and set aside a few of the darker pieces to use as garnish.
3. Add in the Whole Spice Mix until the spices release their aromas (about 30 seconds). Make sure they do not burn.
4. Add 300ml water to the pan, cover the pan and bring to the boil. * Be extremely careful when adding the water to the pan with the hot oil.
5. Add the rice and stir. Simmer until  the rice is half-cooked and the water has almost evaporated (about 4-5 minutes).
6. Gently fluff up the rice with a fork, cover with lid and allow it to steam in the pan on the lowest heat possible until fully cooked (a few minutes). Be careful not to let it burn.
7. Garnish with the fried onion and serve.

You can remove the whole spices if you want but it’s leaving them in adds to the appearance of the rice.

If you like this you should try our
Medium Chicken CurryChicken MadrasChicken VindalooChicken BhoonaChicken Feet Curry (Africa)

Don’t hurry this dish. It’s not a rice to the finish.

Curry Guide… Choosing Rice

Curry Guide

Don’t treat your order of rice as an afterthought. Choosing the right rice should enhance your meal. If you are ordering a special dish (or a really hot one) stick to Plain Rice or  Pilau Rice so you don’t have tastes competing with the flavours (or heat) of your main dish. If you are looking for more flavours on the table then go for a rice that really adds something to your dish rather than something that just soaks up the sauce.

• You’ve ordered somIMG_6913ething hot, like Vindaloo or Madras… then go for Plain Rice or the lightly spiced Pilau Rice to give yourself some respite from the blast.

• You’ve ordered something smooth like Korma or Tikka Masala… then go for Lemon Rice for a sharp taste to cut through the cream.

• You’ve ordered a medium-spiced lamb dish like Karahi Lamb… then go for Coconut Rice as its subtle flavours complement the strong, robust taste of the red meat.

• You’ve ordered Biryani… then go for, ahem, you won’t be needing any extra rice with this one.


The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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