clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Close up of a bowl of pilau rice

Pilau Rice Recipe

  • Author: Michelle Minnaar
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Never order takeaway Pilau Rice again! Learn how to make the easy Indian side dish recipe in a few easy steps. Great with curries! 


  • 45ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 6 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick, approximately 10cm (4in) long
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 370g (2 cups) basmati rice
  • 2g (1 tsp) ground cumin
  • 2g (1 tsp) ground turmeric
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 750ml (3 cups) water


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the cardamom and cinnamon until the spices’ aromas are released, which should take about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the onion and gently fry for around 5 minutes, or until it has softened and has become translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
  4. Tip in the rice, cumin, turmeric, cloves and bay leaves. 
  5. Stir vigorously then pour in the water. 
  6. Turn up the heat, give it another stir then wait for a slow simmering point to be reached. 
  7. Once it slowly simmers, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked. 
  8. Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve immediately with your favourite curry. Enjoy!


  • If you’re not vegan, you can use ghee or butter instead of vegetable oil.
  • Watch out for the whole spices when eating the rice. You can remove them immediately after cooking but the longer they stay in the more fragrant the rice becomes. 
  • This recipe is freezer-friendly. 
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Boil
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: pilau rice, pilau rice recipe, how to make pilau rice, indian rice, pilaf rice, indian rice, yellow rice recipe, how to flavour rice