Make foolproof rice every time with this Perfect Basmati Rice Pilaf. Keep it plain or add pine nuts and peas for a pop of color and crunch.
This recipe is naturally gluten free, vegetarian and can be made vegan with vegan butter.
Fragrant and tender, Indian basmati rice comes from the Hindi word Bas meaning aroma and Mati which means “full of”. Basmati or U.S. grown Texmati give this pilaf an extra boost of flavor, but any long grain rice will work.
One pot, two methods
Trust me: although it takes a little longer than just boiling your rice, this method, mostly hands off, delivers perfectly tender rice every time.
Boil the rice for just 10 minutes, then drain. Using the same pot, melt either butter or vegan butter, gently place drained rice back into the pot and steam, covered on the lowest heat another 30-35 minutes. The result:
Perfect Basmati Rice Pilaf
- plain to use all week long with everything from casseroles to tacos
- or dressed up with crunchy pine nuts and bright green peas for an easy, outstanding side dish.
My husband loved this rice pilaf and ate it twice this week: first with a couple of Texas-sized steamed tamales, then a second time with a bowl of this spicy stew.
Rice Fixer Uppers
A sprinkle of sea salt and generous grind of fresh black pepper may be all the flavor you need.
But if you’re feeling adventurous, use this technique to customize your pilaf.
Add in ideas:
- toasted almonds + yellow raisins + orange zest
- sauteed onions + cherry tomatoes + parmesan cheese
- a little curry powder while cooking + roasted potatoes, cauliflower or mushrooms
- pesto or cheese sauce or marinara
- a smattering of fresh herbs
- protein: anything from tofu or fish to sliced chicken or steak
Other rice and side dish favorites:
- Cranberry Wild Rice Salad
- Ten Thanksgiving Sides and Sweets
- Lemon Basil Quinoa Pilaf
- Cinnamon Maple Butternut Squash
- Date Nut Stuffed Baked Apples
Perfect rice every time? Dig in!Print
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter or vegan butter
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, almonds or pecans
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley or mint
- In a heavy stockpot with a lid, bring 8 cups of water to boil. Stir in rice, salt and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes (stirring a few times), then drain rice into a fine mesh colander.
- Return the same pot to stove and melt butter over medium heat. Carefully add drained rice to the pot. Cover pot with a clean kitchen towel, then put on the lid. Fold towel over edges of the lid and secure with a rubber band or clip so it doesn’t burn.
- Cook rice over lowest possible heat for 30-35 minutes until rice is tender and forms a golden brown crust on the bottom of pot.
- Off heat, use a rubber spatula to carefully stir the crusty bits into the cooked rice. Taste, add in additional salt if you like and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- You can make this rice a day or two before you want to serve it. Reserve some plain rice for other uses, like in meatballs, a casserole or a cold salad. Reheat plain rice (covered, with a little water added, over medium heat), then add in toasted pine nuts and defrosted peas. Off heat and just before serving, sprinkle rice with optional chopped parsley or mint.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Crusty Basmati Rice in Foolproof: Recipes You can Trust.