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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Rice Pilaf

(adapted from Cooks Illustrated #43, March & April 2000)

*This recipe is all about the technique, which is flawless. I have yet to make a good pot of white rice but this rice comes out perfectly every time I make it.

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 t. salt
ground black pepper
3 T. unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced small

1/4 cup golden raisins
3 cardamom pods
clean kitchen towel (for 2nd part of cooking rice)

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted for garnish


The first step is to rinse the rice. Place the rice in a medium bowl and add enough water to cover it by 2 inches. Using your hands, gently swish grains to release excess starch. Then pour off water, leaving rice in bowl (I use a strainer because I’m clumsy). Repeat this process four or five times until the water runs almost clear. Leave the rice in the strainer over a bowl and set aside.

In a small pot with a lid, bring 2 1/4 cups water to boil. Add salt & season with pepper. When water has come to boil, turn the flame off and cover the pot with a lid to keep the water warm.

Meanwhile, in the pot you plan to cook the rice in (Cooks Illustrated recommends a wide-bottom sauce pan with tight fitting lid) heat the butter over medium heat until foam begins to subside; add onions and sauté until softened but not browned (about 4 minutes). Add rice and stir to coat grains with butter. Cook rice in butter for 3 minutes, until edges of rice grains begin to turn translucent. Stir the hot seasoned water into the rice; return to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover pot and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 16-18 minutes. Take pot off heat, remove lid and add raisins and cardamom pods. Fold a kitchen towel in half  and place over pot so entire opening is covered.** Replace lid of pot (on top of towel) and let stand for 10 minutes.

While rice is standing, toast almonds.

When rice is done, fluff with fork and serve.
**note to distracted cooks like me. I have come perilously close to setting the towel on fire  by a) forgetting to turn the flame off, b) not removing pot from burner. So really, take pot off heat and turn stove off 1st!!


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