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The Best Basmati Rice Pilaf

This basmati rice pilaf with almonds and raisins perfectly accompanies many main courses. The Hindi word basmati literally translates to "fragrant." Your home will smell amazing.

September 14, 2020

Basmati rice pilaf prepared from Madhur Jaffrey's cookbook

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

The best basmati rice pilaf recipe, with almonds and raisins, is from Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook, At Home with Madhur JaffreyShe is an award-winning actress and cookbook author. This book is a fantastic resource because she magically inspires home cooks to try exotic recipes and spices. With her signature writing style, not only will you gain confidence in these unique and ethnic dishes, but also you will feel like you gained a friend. She weaves her rich family stories and regional cuisine history into the recipes. But above all, she makes Indian recipes accessible and opened my experiences to cooking the best basmati rice pilaf.

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey Cookbook on a counter

Francis Lam, the host of American Public Media’s The Splendid Table, interviewed Madhur Jaffrey in a podcast last June. It is a delightful interview that highlights her impressive career and a new  30th cookbook, Instantly Indian Cookbook: Modern and classic recipes for the Instant Pot.  At 80+ years old, she is an extraordinary food ambassador and relevant force in cooking. This cookbook will be an upcoming project of mine to post about the successes. I am sure there will be many.

Rice Bath

This recipe for basmati rice pilaf is my favorite rice recipe because of the simplicity of ingredients and versatility to accompany many main courses. Making basmati rice requires rinsing and soaking. Who knew that rice needs a bath? My home smells like hot buttered popcorn when I make it. Only use basmati rice with this recipe – no substitutes. 

My Favorite Rice Pot

Unique Lid

I enjoy basmati rice so much that I invested in a 3.75 Quart French Cast Iron Staub Essential French Oven because the best recipe deserves the best pot. The pan cooks the rice beautifully, and the proprietary lid design distributes the liquid while cooking. Staub calls it a “self-basting system” that ensures a continuous distribution of the liquid over the rice while cooking.

Beautiful Design

The pot works great from stove-top to table because it is beautiful and keeps the rice hot. But if you serve the rice at the table, you may not have any leftovers.

Special Interior

The enameled interior is slightly texture, which provides the ideal properties for roasting the spice, caramelizing the onions, browning the nuts, and finishing the rice with a slightly crispy bottom. A lidded sauté pan or saucepan will also work for this recipe.
Staub enamel cast-iron pot with a unique lid

Enamel cast-iron pot with a unique lid.

The best basmati rice pilaf cooking in enamel cast iron pot

The slightly textured interior provides the ideal properties for roasting and cooking.

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the best basmati rice pilaf ready to serve

The Best Basmati Rice Pilaf

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  • Author: Karen
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This basmati rice pilaf with almonds and raisins perfectly accompanies many main courses. The Hindi word basmati literally translates to “fragrant.” Your home will smell amazing.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 23 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
  • 1 cinnamon stick, approximately 2 inches
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into fine half rings
  • 2 tablespoons slivered blanched almonds
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 22/3 cups water or chicken, beef, or vegetable stock


  1. Rinse the rice by placing the dry rice in a 2-quart bowl and cover with water with a pouring spout.  Carefully pour out the dirty water leaving the rice behind. Do this five times until the water is almost clear. After the final rinse, cover the rice with 1.5 quarts of water and let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat Aromatics. Pour the oil into a medium saucepan pan or saute pan that has a tight-fitting lid.  Set over medium-high heat and when hot, place the cinnamon stick in the pan and let it sizzle for 10 seconds. Place the onions into the pan and stir fry until just turning brown. Add the almonds and stir until they are golden. Add the raisins and cook until they are plump just a few seconds.
  3. Drain the rice through a sieve and leave the sieve suspended over the bowl to drip for a few moments.
  4. Add the drained rice and salt to the pan with onions and spices. Stir very gently to mix and add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, turn the heat to very, very low and simmer for 22 – 25 minutes. All liquid should be absorbed.
  5. Serve. Discard cinnamon stick. Fluff rice gently with a fork and serve.

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Karen the Supper Sanity Home Chef

Welcome to Supper Sanity

Hello, I’m Karen, a very passionate meal planner. As a mother of three, I have been planning family menus for years. When I was diagnosed with a digestive condition, I found it necessary to follow an eating regime that eliminated many ingredients. That made meal planning a health necessity. I’ve learned a lot and want to share my resources to simplify meal planning, shop efficiently and cook affordable homemade meals. If you wish to try new recipes, plan healthier meals, and enjoy a great dinner with your friends and family, Supper Sanity can help.

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