Pilau rice

Preparation time
less than 30 mins

Cooking time
10 to 30 mins

Serves 4-6

From The Hairy Bikers' Comfort Food


  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 75g/2½oz butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 300g/10½oz basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 500ml/18fl oz chicken or vegetable stock, fresh or made from 1 stock cube
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the coriander seeds into a coarse powder. Add the cardamom pods and grind until the husks split and the seeds are lightly crushed. Add the cumin, cloves, cinnamon and bay and pound very lightly for a few seconds, to mix.

  2. Melt half the butter in a sauté pan or wide-based saucepan over a medium heat. Fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly. Sprinkle in the turmeric and mustard seeds, plus all the ingredients from the pestle and mortar. Fry gently for 2 minutes, stirring.

  3. Mix in the rice to coat it in the buttery spices. Add the stock and a good pinch of black pepper. Add a pinch of salt if needed (stock from a cube will already contain salt). Stir well and bring to the boil. Give a final stir then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes.

  4. When the rice is cooked, cut the rest of the butter into small pieces. Remove the pan lid and dot the butter over the hot rice. Leave to melt for a few seconds, then quickly fluff up the rice using a fork, taking care not to break up the grains.

  5. Replace the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving. (Warn your guests not to eat the cardamom, cinnamon or any whole cloves.)

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