Basmati Pilau Rice

So, what is Pilau a rice anyway? Wonder no more! This dish consists of a light fragrant long grain rice with toasted cumin and peas, a perfect side for any Indian dish!

Click here to skip the story and go right to the recipe!

If you’ve read our blog on Risotto you will know that there are 3 types of rice. Short, medium and long grain. The short grain rices are great for dishes like paella or sushi. Medium grain is usually any parboiled or prepared rice. Long grain rices, like basmati, turn out fluffy and have more fragrance to them. Jasmine is also a long grain…we can practically smell the jasmine rice just writing about it! This recipe is about Basmati, a beautiful long grain rice grown at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains which is aged to dry it out. The more aged it is, the more fragrant and golden it looks. We could go on and on about rice, it’s aging, flavor profiles and what to pair with what, but since this recipe will be linked with our Chicken Tikka Meatballs, we wanted to provide a recipe for light, fluffy basmati pilaf to go with it.

Basmati Pilau Rice

Serves 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Inactive Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 39 minutes

– 1 cup basmati rice
– 2 cups water or stock
– 1 Tb cumin seeds
– 2 Tb butter/ghee or neutral oil 
– 2 tsp sea salt
– 1/2 cup frozen or fresh green peas
– 1/4 cup diced onion
– 1 clove garlic minced

Let’s get cooking!

First, and most importantly, it is imperative to soak, drain and rinse basmati rice before doing anything. This will release the starch and help to create those light fluffy grains. Before starting your prep work, measure out your rice and soak it in a bowl with cool water. Gently agitate the rice to help start the starch release. It can sit like this for up to an hour, but we usually let it sit just as long as it takes to get everything else ready. 

In a medium stock pot, heat your butter/ghee/oil over medium heat. Once it warms up, add the cumin seeds and when the seeds start to pop and become fragrant, add in your garlic and stir for about 30 seconds or until the aroma releases. Next, add in the chopped onions and cook until they become translucent, about 3 minutes. Now it’s fine to add in your water or stock, cover the pot and turn the heat to high.

While the liquid is heating, use a mesh strainer or your hand and drain the water from the soaking rice. We like to use the strainer and then rinse under cool water again just to rinse extra starch off.

When the liquid comes to a boil, gently add in your rinsed basmati and give the rice a gentle stir so it is evenly distributed in the pan. Cover and wait for the rice to come to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low. You want a nice lazy summer, not boiling. The rice will simmer for 20 minutes, check it periodically to make sure it is not too hot, but don’t mix or touch! From here until it’s done it’s hands off! 

While it’s cooking, get your peas ready to add in. We use frozen peas in our pilau, but fresh will also work. We strongly suggest not using canned peas, they will be mushy, and salty, and not bring that fresh pop that the other peas will. 

After 20 minutes of rice cooking, turn the heat off, throw your peas on top, and put the lid back on for another 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes, remove the lid, use a fork and gently fluff the rice while folding in the peas. That’s it! Easy right?

This recipe is a perfect side for our Chicken Tikka Meatballs or Chili Paneer. We can’t wait to hear what you think and how your cooking went, make sure to leave us a comment! 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. jean couchey says:

    Well I can do that! I never have rinsed my rice, & I use mostly Jasmine. Should I?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You could, but don’t need to with Jasmine.


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