Pilau Rice (Indian Pilaf Rice)

A perfect accompaniment to your curries, full of flavour and really simple. This fool proof pilau rice recipe is a must for a curry night.

I used to struggle massively when cooking rice. It would always come out either stodgy, undercooked or burnt! No matter how much I rinsed it, stirred it, measured it and even prayed for it! Nothing worked. So, I’m glad to say this pilaf rice is pretty fool proof too! If, like me, rice seems to have a vendetta against you, try this recipe. You’ll be amazed at how easy and how tasty rice can be!

I made a chicken korma curry this week with homemade peshwari naans. But, You have to have rice with a curry, right? But why settle for plain, boring old boiled rice. Rice doesn’t need to be boring, it’s simply begging for extra flavour and you literally have so many options!

Here is the perfect partner to my “fakeout” Korma curry (that’s when I pretend I’ve ordered in but have actually cooked it at home!).

Slightly spicy and oh, so, yellow, It’s like eating a big bowl of the sun, which has been missing for what feels like a lifetime now! This pilau rice recipe is guaranteed to brighten up your plate whatever you choose to serve it with.

close up of rice

What is Pilau Rice

Pilau rice or Pilaf rice as it’s also called is a traditional Indian rice dish originating in Persia. Pilaf rice is usually made with basmati rice, cooked in stock with added spices and sometimes meat and vegetables. It is often served as an accompaniment to various Indian curry dishes. The word pilau actually refers to the technique used to cook the rice as opposed to it’s ingredients, which can vary greatly from recipe to recipe.

Unlike plain boiled rice which is cooked in water, this pilau rice is boiled in stock. Cooking the rice in chicken or vegetable stock adds a depth of flavour to each mouthful of rice and combined with the various spices used, also has a wonderful fragrance.

This particular easy pilau recipe is coloured yellow with Turmeric and flavoured with cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves and a bay leaf.

overhead close up of rice

Tips and Guidance

As with a lot of rice dishes, other than when stated in the recipe, it’s important to wash the surface starch from the rice before cooking, this will prevent a sticky glutinous mess. After you have soaked your rice, wash it well under cold running water and agitate it so the starch washes through and away. I recommend doing this until the water is mostly clear and no longer cloudy.

If you’d like to add extras and make your pilau rice dish a complete meal on it’s own, you can add some vegetables, such as peas, green beans, sliced onion, broccoli or peppers. Just be sure to pan-fry or steam them before adding into your rice recipe. You can even sprinkle in some sultanas or dried apricots too if you like.

You can also add meat such as chicken or lamb. If you want to try chicken, I recommend using boneless chicken thighs and shallow fry them in a little oil until they are browned and cooked through. You can then remove them from the heat and slice up. Add into the rest of your ingredients when you add the stock to the rice.

Adding extra ingredients may mean you need a little more stock, so keep a close eye on your rice and add a little more liquid if required.

If you want a vegan pilau rice, using vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock will still work well. In place of the butter, you can use a little oil.

Owing to the food poisoning risk associated with cooked rice, Pilau rice is best eaten as soon as it has cooked. If you have to reheat it, do it only once and check that your pilau rice is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cooled rice should be stored in the refrigerator before being reheated and not left out on the side.

Recipe FAQ

How do I store cooked pilau rice?

Once it has cooled, immediately place your rice in the fridge. Do not keep cooked pilau rice for more than a day in the fridge before reheating

Can I use vegetable stock instead?

Yes, of course. If you want to make this dish vegetarian pilau, you can use vegetable stock instead. The flavour will be slightly different but it will still taste great.

overhead view of pilau rice in a bowl

Pilau Rice (Indian Pilaf Rice)

Author: Becky
A perfect accompaniment to your curries, full of flavour and really simple. This fool proof pilau rice recipe is a must for a curry night.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 362 kcal


  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 250 g Basmati Rice
  • 6 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 500 ml Chicken Stock


  • Place your rice in a bowl and cover with warm water, leave to soak for 10 minutes and then rinse until the water runs clear, drain and leave to one side.
  • Melt the butter in a pan.
  • Add the spices and cook until aromatic.
  • Add the rice and stir to disperse the spices throughout.
  • Add the stock and bring to the boil.
  • Place a tight fitting lid on the pan and simmer over a gentle heat for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes with the lid on.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 362kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 8gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 184mgPotassium: 258mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 271IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 1mg
Keyword indian rice dish, pilaf rice, yellow rice
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