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Bowl of turmeric coloured Indian restaurant style rice pilau from above.
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4.84 from 6 votes

Easy Indian pilau rice

This the fastest way I know to make truly delicious pilau rice
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Resting time5 mins
Course: side
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: basmati, pilau rice
Servings: 4
Calories: 210kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 2" piece cassia bark
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tej patta Indian bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt - a bit less if you are using regular sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric


  • Pick a pot with a tight fitting lid. For 1 cup of rice a 2 quart saucepan is a good size.
  • Heat the ghee over medium heat.
  • Add the green cardamom, cassia bark and cumin seed. Little bubbles should form around the spices. Cook for around 30 seconds.
  • Add the rice and stir. Add the water. For basmati using this technique the proportions are always 1 rice to 1 and 1/2 water. One tsp of kosher salt per cup of rice.
  • Add the turmeric and Indian bay leaf (tej patta). Bring to a lively simmer.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cover. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Do something else for a while.
  • When the timer goes off (20 minutes after you covered the pot), turn of the heat. Do not uncover. Move the pot off the burner.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes. Keep doing something else. After five minutes remove the lid and gently fluff the rice. Inhale that aroma!


You can use this to recipe to cook plain white basmati rice as well. Just skip the steps with the ghee and spices. Rice, water, salt and this technique work every time.
I sometimes replace the turmeric with Indian restaurant mix powder when I want seriously flavoured rice. 


Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg