Indian Pilau Rice

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Indian Pilau Rice Recipe

Pilau rice is a common accompaniment to Indian curries, and you will find it served up in many different ways and forms in different restaurants across the world. This simple Indian pilau rice recipe will show you how to make fragrant pilau rice in your microwave rice cooker.


indian curry


How best to cook rice?

I have been cooking my chicken curry recipe for many years now and it remains one of my favourite dishes. I often make pilau rice to accompany it, or some naan bread, or parathas or both. 

indian curry pilau rice


Over the years I have tried different ways of cooking rice – in the pan and in the microwave and I must say using the microwave is the best way every time. It always gives consistent results, irrespective of the amount of rice you are cooking.

Admittedly I do not have a rice cooker, and I have not yet tried our Instant Pot to cook rice, but the results I get in the microwave are superb. It is a bit like a bread machine – you throw everything in, set the timer and let it do its work! You do not need to constantly watch it.


pilau rice rice cooker


My recipe calls for one water check halfway through the ten-minute cycle but apart from that, it is very simple. If you do not have a microwave rice cooker I suggest you get one – I have one from Pampered Chef that has seen better days but is still going strong! I swear by it.

How to cook Basmati Rice

This recipe calls for basmati rice which is an Indian long grained white rice. In the past I used to cook the rice without any preparation, which did not always give the right results. Sometimes I would end up with sticky rice, which is not really what you want in a pilau rice.


pilau basmati rice


The most important trick to cooking basmati rice properly, either in a pan or in the microwave, is to give it a good rinse and soak in water before cooking. What this does is remove the layer of starch from the outside of the rice grains.

This is essential and stops the rice from sticking together. I wish I had known this earlier. If you don’t normally do this, then try it. You will see what I mean and what a difference it makes to the cooked rice.


fluffy pilau rice
Indian Pilau Rice


Ingredients for Pilau rice

As mentioned before Pilau rice varies a lot from place to place. This recipe is very simple and only includes a few spices.

You can experiment by adding things like a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves, peas, fried onions and all sorts of other things if you are being adventurous. It’s up to you.

Some places even colour their rice grains to add colour to the white grains.


pilau rice recipe


Here I have done that using turmeric and saffron to give the rice a nice yellow colour.

I hope you get on well with this easy pilau rice recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

How to prepare Pilau Rice

Pilau Rice

fluffy pilau rice

This simple Indian Pilau rice dish, cooked in a microwave rice cooker, is a quick and easy way to produce a tasty pilau rice for your Indian curry

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 35 minutes
Total Time 47 minutes


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 5 saffron strands
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Wash the rice well under a stream of cold water until the water runs clean.
  2. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the rice until the dripping stops.
  4. Place the rice in the microwave rice cooker.
  5. Add the saffron, turmeric, cumin seeds and cardamom pods and a layer of boiling water to just cover the rice.
  6. Heat on full power in the microwave for five minutes.
  7. Remove from microwave and check water level. Refill with hot water to just cover rice if necessary.
  8. Heat on full power again in microwave for another 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from microwave immediately and remove inner bowl from rice cooker. Throw away any remaining water and leave to rest in the rice cooker for 5 minutes before serving.


You may wish to remove the whole spices like the cardamom pods before serving 🙂

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