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Patiala Pilaf

(Patiala Pullao)

From Julie Sahni, Classic Indian Cooking

Serves: 6-8


  • 3 medium onions
  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 6 tbs. light vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. black (or white) cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 black (or 6 green) cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches long
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt


  1. Peel onions. Finely chop one onion. Slice the other two onions into paper-thin shreds.
  2. Wash basmati rice. Put rice in a bowl, add 4 cups cold water, and let soak for 1/2 hour. Drain rice, reserving the water.
  3. Heat oil, add the two shredded onions. Over medium-high heat, fry onions until they turn dark brown (about 20 minutes), stirring constantly. Take onions out with slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Set aside for garnish.
  4. Turn heat to medium high. If using white cumin seeds, add and fry until dark brown (about 10 seconds). Add 1 chopped onion, and fry until light brown (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add garlic, fry for 1 minute. Add spices, fry for 30 seconds. Add rice, fry until rice becomes translucent again and begins to brown (about 2-3 minutes). Add reserved water and salt, bring to boil, stirring to keep rice from settling.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until water is almost absorbed and surface of rice is covered with tiny steam holes (about 10-12 minutes). Do not stir rice.
  6. Cover pan tightly, reduce heat to lowest possible level, and raise pan about an inch away from heat. Let rice steam for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, let rice rest undisturbed, covered, for another 5 minutes.
  7. Uncover, fluff rice with a fork, and transfer to a warm serving platter. Garnish with fried onion shreds.


    Keywords: Indian, Rice.