Pilau Rice


Serves: 6


  • 500g Basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp. Vegetable oil
  • 4 Cloves
  • 9 Green cardamom pods
  • 2″ Stick of cassia bark or cinamo
  • 1tsp.Salt
  • Food colouring red, yellow, green
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1.5l Water


Firstly, pour all of the rice into a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Leave the rice to drain and elongate for around 5 minutes.

Place a pan on the heat and boil up the water. In another large casserole dish add the oil and start warming gently.
Add the whole spices (cardamom pods, cassia bark etc) to the oil and stir continuously for 30 seconds or so. Add the rice and stir around the pan for about a minute, ensure that all grains are coated in the spiced oil.

Add the boiling water from the other pan and stir continuously to stop the rice from sticking to the casserole dish. Add the salt and continue stirring.
Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking. You will know when the rice is nearly cooked as the grains will be soft on the outside, but still firm on the inside “Al Dente”. As soon as the rice is like this, drain it into a sieve and allow it to steam over the casserole dish for 5 minutes at least.
Now spread the rice over a clean baking tray in a thin layer. Using a tea spoon, dot the different food colourings over the rice in small drops. Then transfer the tray to a fridge to cool and for the food colouring agents to set. This will take at least an hour. During this cooling stage the rice will dry and the grains will separate.

When you are ready to serve simply fluff the rice up with a fork, transfer it to a bowl or serving dish, cover with cling film and heat in a microwave on full power for a few minutes until the rice is steaming. Alternatively, wrap the baking tray in tin foil and place in a hot oven until piping hot.

Optional ingredients include Star Anise, Cumin Seeds, Fennel Seeds, sugar and anything else you wish to add really.


An alternative to boiling the water in a pan is to use a kettle if it’s large enough, either way the water must be boiling when it is added, not cold and then brought up to the boil with the rice.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Massanda | The Curry Bible

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