Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Simple Spiced Rice-cooker Pilaf

Once you get plain rice right, it's easy to do a whole range of rice dishes. Change the water to homemade stock or coconut milk, add a spoon of fried shallot oil or garlic oil, or even a generous dab of butter, and the plain ol' boring rice immediately becomes neither plain nor boring. There's no change in the basic steps at all, but it looks and tastes a bit more exciting than a pot of plain white rice (which I do love though). This one, I just sauteed the rice in some ghee with whole garam masala spices first, it's a brilliant side to Indian curries or and probably Arabian-style spiced stews and tagines.

Indian mothers seem to frown upon that thing, that modern rice-cooking machine, but ask any Asian mothers and they will swear by their rice cookers, and so do I. My beloved pink Toyomi rice cooker turned out fluffy, feather-light grains that may just fool the beady eyes of the Indian housewife. That said, you can easily do this over the stove-top too, in almost exactly the same steps.

Simple Spiced Rice-cooker Pilaf
1 cup basmati rice, soaked for half to 1 hour
1 onion, chopped finely
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, crushed
2 cloves
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup cold water (plus minus. depends on your brand/age of rice and how long you soak)
very generous pinch of unrefined sea salt
1 scant tbsp of ghee/coconut oil

1. Switch rice cooker to "cook" and let the pot heat up.
2. Add the ghee/oil and saute the whole spices for a min or so to toast.

3. Add the chopped onions to sweat, before adding the ground turmeric.

4. Add the soaked and drained rice, saute to coat in the spices, then add the water and salt, and close the lid (make sure it's still on 'cook').

5. When it clicks done, do the "close and wait, open and fluff, close and wait, open and breathe".

(i.e. When it's done, do not open for 10 min. Then open, give a fluff through with a chopstick or fork but no spoon. then close and let steam for another 5 min. Then open for a min or so to let excess moisture evaporate, take the time to breathe in the wonderful fragrance. You can then eat or let it stay warm in there for a while longer till you want to eat.)

While cooking, the fragrance of the spices and the basmati rice will perfume your kitchen. Though done in "that rice-cooker thing", the rice has cooked up beautifully into loose, fluffy grains, and each and every one of it has soaked up all the warming flavours of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, and the golden colour from the turmeric. Now I just need a big bubbling pot of curry with extra chillies, and I think I'm all set against the ridiculously late february snow.


  1. I will definitely be trying this with my curries/and other stews/soups. I also am not too much with plain rice and am always looking for ways to add flavor. I have used some cardamom pods before (idea from an Iraqi friend) and also onion (a friend with an Latino restaurant told me how he cooks rice with a whole unpeeled onion in it for flavor and color). I like all the spices you have used and am anxious to make this. I LOL'd over the comment about experimenting and 2 flops should do it! It definitely takes a little practice to get it not too mushy or not undercooked. I agree with you that the best thing to do is leave it alone.


  2. haha glad you found this useful! hee hee yes it took me 2 flops at least ><

  3. yum! So hard to resist rice- and even harder for spiced pilaff! Love the use of spices and I can just imagine having it with curries!

  4. Oh my goodness Shu Han... You're a genius! I'm completely sold on your praise for this rice recipe, love it. I'll definitely be making this for my next Rendang night at home haha! Just need to make sure an Indian homemaker doesn't walk in and see me cooking with a rice cooker and serving this Pilaf with a Malaysian dish instead, oh dear... LOL ;p

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm going to check out your kimchi recipe. It's a favorite of ours.


  6. Good job with the recent rice posts :) I'll get down to trying this someday haha. On a side note, my friend cooks his rice with in this container and microwaves it. Works surprisingly well!

  7. Great blog, I love your recipes and post!
    I´m your new follower.
    I invite you to visit my blog, I hope you enjoy it.
    I have a google traslator, so you can read without problems!
    Kisses from Spain ^^

  8. Oh my goodness, this is great. I had something similar to this (nasi kunyit I think) ages ago and seeing this brings back memories. I'm going to try to make pilaf rice this week.

  9. This is a fantastic idea to "spice" up our plain white rice! I like the fact that you use rice cooker to cook this and it will be fuss free for me if I'm cooking this.

  10. daphne: any excuse for curry ;)

    winston: hehehe totally. omg you just made me crave rendang...

    bonnie: i hope you liek it bonnie (:

    yuhan: microwave?! haha that's a first for me. I honestly don't even know how to work the microwave properly.

    jana: hi jana, sure, thanks for stopping by!

    chocolate, cookies and candies: the yellow colour is from the turmeric, just like in nasi kunyit, but instead of sticky rice, this is loose and fluffy. but both are yum (:

    zoe: yup, the rice cooker makes it a lot easier!

  11. Wow, this must be very yummy to serve with any curry.

  12. I've never really played with my rice cooker beyond turning out decent basmati, jasmin and sushi rice. Now you've inspired me. Add some chunks of lamb shoulder that have been slowly braising for a few hours and you would have me totally hooked...

    And I have to say, i am with those Asian mums, rice cookers are the best!

  13. I couldn't live without my rice cooker (I have burnt several pans before trying to make the rice in the old way...), but I have never dared putting anythig else than water... Thank you for this wonderful idea! I must try it one day.

  14. sonia: or tandoori (:

    the grubworm: it's just throwing in a few extra spices to cook with the rice! haha yah rice cookers ftw!

    sissi: haha i burnt a few myself..

  15. Hola, tienes un blog con muy buenas recetas aqui. Te escribo para proponerte intercambiar enlaces entre nuestros blogs. El mio tambien es de recetas de comidas.

    Espero tus comentarios.



  16. Hi Shu Han! Thank you for your thoughtful and lovely comment on my recent blog post. I so appreciated your words and your reply. That rice looks gorgeous and the perfect thing to eat with just about anything!! I love your recipes + tutorials, they are truly helpful!!

  17. Wow.. I would love this with any curry or rendang! Looks really tasty ! Another recipe that I HAVE to try! Can't resist it actually ! :) hehehe

  18. You have a bay leaf in your pics, but not in the list of ingredients.

  19. I am very concerned about it. Thank you for sharing.

  20. I am very concerned about it. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Nice rice, thanks for your nice sharing

  22. Thanks. I love your post, it really good and interesting.

  23. Excellent info here, I am currently doing some research and found exactly what I was looing for.

  24. Really good job on the site, Thanks for guide!

  25. So nice to learn more from you. Thanks.

  26. What a superb recipe dear, it seems so delicious as we were planning a trip today and we thought to cook something at home to bring with us to the trip to eat it later so I found your blog its

    really nice thanks !! :)

  27. Thanks for the great recipe you shared with us. The picture were gorgeous and really help make the cooking process much easier. Cheers.

  28. Shu Han -- thank you for sharing your experiences, your humour and your recipe! If I may provide some (hopefully helpful) guidelines, it would be great if you can list your ingredients in the order they are used in the recipe (I learnt this from a publisher who works with great chefs!) and ensure that all pictures represent these ingredients -- in your images above, there appears to be either a Bay Leaf or Curry Leaf, but there is no mention of either in the ingredients list. Do I also see a dried chili? (I have added both because I love the flavours they impart!). -- Again, you are a STAR! for presenting us with innovative ways to expand our use of these magic kitchen machines, and I am grateful!

    1. Thanks for all the kind words! You're right about the ingredients – the newer blog posts are much much better. The blog's a learning process for me too :)

  29. Presently, even the lower class individuals can manage the cost of one at home. Truth be told, a family may have more than one arrangement of rice cooker in their home. There is no denying that the rice cooker has contributed a ton to family units all around. Lindsey @ cookerfanatics

  30. Excellent incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make running a blog look easy. The overall glance of your website is magnificent, let alone the content!
    Brown Basmati Rice