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  • Writer's pictureKate

Recipe: Really Tasty One-Pot Rhubarb Pilau

Pilau dishes are eaten across a large part of the world- pretty much anywhere rice is grown. Some varieties of pilau use bulghur wheat as an alternative to rice, too. Similar techniques are used to make dishes such as risotto and paella with slight differences depending upon the type of rice and the other ingredients available locally. It’s a bit different from the fried rice dishes in East Asian cuisine as with pilau the rice is usually cooked along with the vegetables whereas the rice is pre-cooked in fried rice dishes.

Pilau is an ancient dish: Reportedly, there are carvings including dishes that look a lot like pilau from the reign of Alexander the Great about 2300 years ago, while Ibn Sina the great philosopher and doctor (and pretty much everything else, too) wrote lengthy opinions on which ingredients are best in pilau during the 13th century CE.

Pilau makes a really easy and delicious one-pan meal or side dish- once all the ingredients are in the pan, you just ignore it until it’s done- you can see why pilau recipes are so popular with cooks all over the world. Of course, if you have leftover cold rice you could easily turn this recipe into a fried rice dish, too.

Ingredients (serves 6 as a main meal or 12 as a side dish)

· 2 sticks rhubarb

· 1 onion

· 1 carrot

· 1 stick celery

· 4 cloves garlic

· ½ cup raisins

· ½ cup mixed seeds or nuts

· 2 tsp bouillon powder or 2 stock cubes

· Spices to taste- we like to add a little chilli, pepper, cumin, coriander seed and cinnamon

· 2 cups basmati rice

· Just under 4 cups boiling water (it’s OK to use cold water, just slower)

· 2tbsp oil

In this recipe, the raisins provide sweetness so no extra added sugar is needed. If you want to switch out the raisins, you’ll probably find it needs a bit of sugar- or of course, add sugar to taste in any case.

If you don't have the vegetables above handy or you're not in the mood for chopping everything, a tin or two of mixed veg or a couple of cups of frozen mixed veg would work really well too.

You will also need

· A sharp knife and chopping board

· A large pan with a lid or plate to cover

· A kettle or extra small pan to boil water (optional)

· A wooden spoon

· A fork


  1. Put the oil and rice into the pan, and cook on a moderate heat so that the rice browns gently, stirring occasionally.

  2. While the rice is browning, chop the rhubarb, onion, garlic, celery and carrot reasonably finely (to fingertip size or so), then tip them all into the pan.

  3. Cook all the vegetables until they are soft, stirring occasionally.

  4. While the vegetables are softening, add the raisins, seeds or nuts and any spices you’re using.

  5. Add the stock cubes or bouillon and stir.

  6. Add the water and bring the whole mix to the boil.

  7. Turn the heat down low and cover the pan with a lid.

  8. Leaving the lid on, cook the pilaf on a low heat for 12-15 minutes (use a timer)

  9. WITHOUT taking the lid off, switch the heat off and leave to stand for another 10 or so minutes.

  10. Take off the lid and fluff the pilaf up with a fork- or, alternatively, turn out the whole thing onto a plate, a bit like a cake.

Serve hot, warm or cold as a side dish or as a main meal. Delicious accompanied with a green salad.

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