This brown rice pilau recipe has been a staple in our house for years. It's really easy to make with store cupboard ingredients, and it has the most beautiful fragrant flavour. As the recipe includes lentils, it's a complete meal, although I usually add a salad or some other vegetables. But it is also delicious served as a side dish with sausages or pork if you prefer.
What's so good about this brown rice pilau?
This pilau recipe is full of health benefits. Brown rice is far more nutritious than its white counterpart. It is a wholegrain, which means that it contains the bran and germ and is naturally high in fibre. It is also rich in a number of B vitamins and minerals. Brown rice can be beneficial to heart health and diabetes. There is more information about the health benefits of brown rice here. Lentils are also full of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Brown rice pilau is filling and satisfying. Lentils are a perfect complement to wholegrain rice. Eating the two together will provide you with a complete source of protein. Protein is filling, which means that you are less likely to overeat. And the fibre will also help to keep you fuller for longer.
Most importantly, this pilau also tastes delicious. Brown rice has much more flavour than white, and it adds a lovely nuttiness to the dish. The combination of spices add a delicious warmth and colour.
Onions, celery and garlic. These add a good base of flavour to the recipe, as well as adding some extra healthy veg. I prefer to slice the onions, but you could chop them if you prefer.
Olive oil or butter. Or you can use another healthy oil if you prefer. Obviously, for a vegan pilau, you'll need to use oil or a vegan spread which is suitable for frying.
Rice. For this recipe, you can use long grain brown rice, or brown basmati rice. Short grain rice is unsuitable as it cooks down to a much creamier texture, and is more suited to dishes such as rice pudding and this easy leek and pea risotto.
Lentils. You can either use green lentils or Puy lentils in this recipe. Puy lentils keep their texture very well, but they are more expensive than green lentils. Red lentils are not suitable for a pilau as they'll go mushy.
- Turmeric adds a rich golden brown colour, and an earthy flavour. If you are not keen on the flavour of turmeric, you could replace it with a pinch of saffron.
- Cardamom add a lovely fragrance to the dish. You can use either ground cardamom, or the crush the seeds from 6-7 pods.
- Ginger. This adds a little warmth, and you can adjust the amount to suit your taste. If you don't have any fresh ginger, you could use ½ teaspoon of powdered ginger.
Spices also add extra health benefits to this dish. Turmeric has proven health benefits as an anti-inflammatory. And ginger is great for your immune system.
Dried apricots. These add a delicious sweetness to the rice, and they become plump and juicy as they cook in the dish. If you don't have dried apricots, you could use dates or sultanas.
Salt and pepper - to taste.
Boiling water. You don't need stock for this recipe, as there's plenty of flavour in the other ingredients. There's quite a large volume of water, but it will get absorbed by the rice as it cooks.
How to make brown rice pilau
This brown rice pilau recipe is really easy to make, in 3 simple steps, and you just need one large frying pan.
- Saute the sliced onions in the oil or butter for 5 minutes. They will start to take on a little colour.
2. Add the garlic, celery, spices and seasoning, and fry for a couple of minutes more. Frying the spices before adding the liquid will help to enhance their flavour.
3. Add the rice, lentils, apricots and boiling water. Stir to mix. Cover the pan, and bring to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. The rice should be cooked, and all the liquid will have been absorbed.
This recipe makes a great vegan dinner. I like to serve it with a salad on the side, and I often add some toasted almonds. Brown rice pilau also works well as a filling side dish. It is also delicious served cold with a salad - you might like to try it with this healthy coronation chicken recipe.
Meal Prep and Storage
Brown rice pilau is great for meal prep, and can be easily reheated in a pan on the stove. Store the cooked dish in the fridge for up to 3 days. It also freezes well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Basmati is a variety of long grained rice. Pilau is a way of cooking rice in a pan with spices. You can use basmati rice to make a pilau. A pilau is a relatively dry dish where the grains of rice remain separate.
None! They are simply alternative spellings of the same word. Pilau is most commonly used in the UK, and pilaf in the US, but they are interchangeable.
Brown rice is more nutrient dense than white rice. It is a wholegrain, and has the bran and germ, which are a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is also higher in fibre.
No, all kinds of rice are naturally gluten free.
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If you are interested in more easy healthy vegetarian meals, you might like to browse the category.
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Brown Rice Pilau
- 1 onion peeled and finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 2 sticks celery chopped into 1 cm pieces
- 1 clove garlic peeled and very finely chopped or crushed
- ½ cm piece of fresh ginger finely grated
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- salt and pepper to taste
- 175 g brown rice basmati or long grain
- 50 g Puy or green lentils
- 75 g dried apricots chopped into pieces
- 700 ml boiling water
- Over a medium heat, fry the onions in the oil or butter for 5 mins.
- Add the celery, garlic, spices and seasoning and fry for a couple of minutes more.
- Add the rice, lentils, apricots and boiling water. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. The rice should be cooked, and the liquid absorbed.
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.