Index By:


Fragrant Pilaf Banaras Style

(Banarasi Pullao)

From Julie Sahni, Classic Indian Cooking

Serves: 6-8


  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 3 tbs. light vegetable oil
  • 4 black (or 8 green) cardamom seeds
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick cinnamon, 3 inches long
  • 24 black peppercorns (optional)
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt


  1. Wash basmati rice.
  2. Place rice in a bowl. Add 4 cups cold water, and let soak exactly 1/2 hour. Drain the rice, reserving the water, and set aside.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add all the spices except the ginger. Fry until spices are slightly brown and puffed (about 2 minutes). Add rice. Continue frying until rice turns translucent and begins to brown (about 3 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  4. Add reserved water, ginger, and salt. Stir well to keep from settling, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes or until the water is almost totally absorbed. Do not stir, as this would break the rice grains.
  5. Cover pan tightly, reduce heat to the lowest point, and raise pan away from the heat source. Let rice steam for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice rest undisturbed, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff, and serve.


  • The basmati rice I buy is usually very clean. I've made this recipe with no washing at all (but soaking as above).
  • I like to sauté golden raisins (sultanas) and slivered almonds in a little ghee, and add them once the pilaf is cooked.

Keywords: Indian, Rice.