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Pilau Rice with Ghee or Butter

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Ghee Rice

Really easy and delicious Pilau Rice!

The first time I tried pilau rice was about 20 years ago in Croydon. I can’t remember the name of the place anymore but I remember thinking it was really good.

The waiter took a ladleful of melted ghee and drizzled it all over the aromatic rice at the table. I thought it was a bit strange when he did it but god was it good!

This is my somewhat lighter pilau rice version but it still has quite a lot of ghee. You can use melted butter. Go ahead… treat yourself. You will need a 3 litre (3 quart) saucepan with a tight fitting lid.

All those spices together with the soft, fluffy Basmati rice are amazing. It’s no wonder this is my family’s favourite pilau rice recipe.

I’m sure you don’t need any more convincing. You really can’t go wrong with this authentic curry house style basmati pilau recipe. 

Making ghee rice

Brown the onions in the hot ghee.

Tempering spices

Tempering the spices.

Making ghee rice

Adding the rest of the ingredients before adding the rice.

Ghee rice

Add the soaked raw rice and stir in the oil to coat.

Ghee rice

Cover with water to steam.

If you like the look of this pilau rice recipe, you might also like to try some of these.

Mushroom Fried Rice
Gunpowder Rice
Vegetable Fried Rice
Cumin Rice
No Fail Basmati Rice

Ghee rice

Meanwhile, brown the cashews in the remaining ghee.

ghee rice

Stir the pilau rice carefully and top with the roasted cashews and ghee.

Yield: 2 - 3

Ghee Rice

Ghee Rice
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 5 tbsp ghee plus a little more to finish
  • ½ onion – finely sliced
  • 1x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamom pods – lightly smashed
  • 1 small piece of mace
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 green chillies – sliced down the centre
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1 generous tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 185g (1 cup) Basmati rice – Rinsed several times and soaked in water for 30 minutes.
  • 10 cashews


  1. Melt 3 tablespoons ghee over medium high heat. When hot, fry the sliced onion until lightly browned. Transfer the fried onion slices to a plate leaving as much ghee as possible in the pan. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, mace, cloves and curry leaves and temper in the oil for about 30 seconds. Return half of the fried onion to the pan, leaving the rest to be used as a garnish.
  2. Pour the soaked rice into a sieve. Then stir the garlic and ginger paste, salt and rice into the pan. Ensure that the rice is evenly coated with the ghee and then top with 375ml ( 1 ½ cups) cold water. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and leave to steam for 40 minutes. Do not lift the lid!
  3. While the rice is steaming, fry the cashews in the remaining two tablespoons of ghee until golden brown. When the rice has steamed for 40 minutes, lift the lid and stir carefully with a fork to separate the grains. Never stir Basmati rice roughly as this will split the grains and make it mushy.
  4. To finish, pour the ghee and cashews over the top and stir in the remaining fried onions to serve.

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 I hope you enjoy this pilau rice recipe as much as my family and I do. If you do give it a try, please don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


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