Sometimes simplicity is the key to the most excellent flavour. This delicious pilau rice showcases the amazing versatility of cumin and has few other ingredients, yet maximises their potential and is quick and easy to cook.

The recipe will feed there or four people as part of a meal. Scale it up or down according to how much you wish to make.

This is one of many, many recipes in my book Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2.

Cumin & Onion Pilau Rice in a Bowl


  • 1½ TBSP Oil or Vegetable Ghee
  • 2 TBSP Cumin Seeds
  • 200g Onion, finely chopped (approx. 240g unpeeled weight or 2 medium Onions)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½-¾ tsp Salt
  • 300ml / 320g Basmati Rice, uncooked
  • ½ tsp Cumin Powder
  • Hot Water


  1. Gently rinse the basmati in cold water and drain the liquid. Repeat five or more times until the drained water is almost clear.
  2. Add the oil or ghee to a non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and fry for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Next add the sliced garlic, chopped onion and the salt. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the onion has softened and browned slightly. Stir regularly.
  5. Now add the basmati rice and cumin powder. Continue frying for another 2 minutes or until all the grains of rice have turned white
  6. Pour in 300ml of hot water and mix gently. Turn the heat down to low and cover the frying pan. Leave to cook for 6-7 minutes without lifting the lid.
  7. After that simply turn off the heat and let the pilau rest (still covered) for 5 minutes or until you wish to serve it.


  • Spoon measurements are level. 1 tsp = 5ml, 1 TBSP = 15ml.
  • Any surplus pilau can be stored in the fridge for a few days or frozen for a few months.
  • Don’t leave cooked rice at room temperature for long. If you are storing it then cool it down quickly first.
  • A ‘mainstream’ pilau rice recipe is in Volume 1 of INDIAN RESTAURANT CURRY AT HOME, or you can the video recipe on Misty Ricardo’s Curry Kitchen Youtube channel.
  • Learn about the Health Benefits of Cumin.

Books by Richard Sayce

Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1
Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2 Front Cover
Curry Compendium Cookbook


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