This easy recipe for Instant Pot Pilau Rice rice makes a tasty spice-infused Indian side dish rice in 30 minutes with 3 minutes hands on time, perfect for a mid week meal. Tasty, quick and easy to make in your Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker. Vegan and naturally gluten free.
I love the stove-top version of my easy pilau rice recipe. It’s straightforward as it is, but here’s an even faster & easier way of making this deliciously spiced rice dish by using an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Once the pot is heated it cooks under pressure for only three minutes, before 15-20 minutes of natural pressure release (NPR) using the keep warm setting.
Why Make Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice?
- The flavour! Spicing up rice makes for a great side dish, full of flavour.
- It’s a no-hassle recipe. A few minutes to fry the onion and spices, and then the electric pressure cooker does the rest.
- The recipe is easy to remember – equal volumes of rice and liquid!
- Very time forgiving. The Instant Pot times the cooking, and the natural pressure release (NPR) time doesn’t have to be precise – a few minutes either way is fine.
- Never get a takeaway again. Know what you’re eating, and save money too by making easy to cook fakeaway curries.
- Freezes well – make a double back and cook once and eat twice!
What sort of rice should I use for Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice?
Make this dish with a long grain rice, but do make sure that you don’t use a quick-cook type, which will result in a mushy mess. I do get better results and flavour from upgrading to a quality Basmati rice, or, even better, an aged Basmati. So long as you use a white rice this recipe will work well.
How to Make Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice
Step One – Measure out the ingredients. I find that doing this always saves time and reduces the chance of leaving something out.
Step Two – Pour the oil into the bottom of the Instant Pot cooking pot. Set the pressure cooker onto a low sauté setting. Crack the cardamom pods – in a pestle and mortar if you have one or if not on a chopping board with the side of a heavy knife. Add the cardamom, turmeric and cumin and fry for a minute until fragrant.
Step Three – Add the onion and fry until soft. When cooking recipes that use half an onion, I dice all of it, and freeze what I haven’t used, storing it in an airtight box. Onion cooks well straight from frozen.
Step Four– Switch off the sauté function and add the rice and stir until it well mixed with the onion, oil and spices.
Step Five– Pour in the stock, add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and give a quick stir and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze it.
If the pot is still very hot and some of the stock boils off immediately add a little more water.
Add a little salt. Check that the seal is in the lid (I’ve left it out before now!), lock the lid onto the Instant Pot, and set the weight to the pressure cook setting.
Step Six– Set the Instant Pot to cook at high pressure for 3 minutes. Once the time is up, leave it on the warming setting for a natural pressure release (NPR) for fifteen minutes.
Rice and Wheat and the Difference between East and West
I’m fascinated by the theories about how the way we think was shaped by our history. Rice farming is a labour intensive activity, that demands collaboration between neighbours. Jobs such as maintaining irrigation canals, transplanting and harvesting rice mean that people have to work together in order to yield a crop. The output per acre/hectare is high, but the labour requirement is high too.
Wheat gives a lower yield, but needs much less work in the process. A family can farm wheat, but it takes a village to farm rice. This difference is suggested as one of the main reasons for a more collectivist mindset and stronger work ethic in rice growing parts of the world, compared to wheat growing areas.
Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice – Tips and Tricks
- You don’t have to include the onion – simply leave it out for an even simpler and quicker dish.
- The great advantage of making this at home rather than getting a take away is that it’s easy to adjust the dish to your taste. For example, by varying the spices, I sometimes throw in half a lemon rind to make lemon rice.
- You can make this ahead, and it will reheat in the microwave, but I far prefer to make it fresh. There’s no real delay as it’s so quick to make.. If you do make it ahead, make sure the rice is cooled before placing it in the fridge. I only keep rice for one day, and I’m very careful about making sure it’s properly reheated before serving.
- Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice can be frozen – this recipe has been written to make a double portion that will exactly fill two standard plastic takeaway trays. Pack leftovers into takeout trays, allow to cool and then freeze. Grab a tub from the freezer and defrost in the fridge then microwave from frozen. I’m a big believer in cook once eat twice!
Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice – Trouble Shooting
I’m getting a burn error and the rice is sticking.
I’ve made this at least 10 times now and have always had perfect pilau rice.
Reasons for getting a burn error could include.
- There isn’t enough liquid
- Solution – Sauté on low and switch off before you add the rice so the pot cools down a little. If the pot is too hot the stock will boil when you add it too much will evaporate and you won’t have enough liquid. If this happens add another 1/4 cup of water.
- There was something stuck to the bottom of the pot
- Solution – After adding the liquid scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze.
Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice is a faster way of making this tasty spiced Indian rice dish. Cook in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker for 3 minutes, then leave for a natural pressure release for 15-20 minutes.
- 1 tbs Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Onion (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 3 cm piece Cinnamon Stick
- 5 Cardamom pods
- 200 g Basmati Rice
- 240 ml Vegetable Stock or Broth
- 2 Bay leaves
Pour the oil into the bottom of the Instant Pot cooking pot. Set the machine onto the low sauté function. Crack the cardamom pod in a pestle and mortar or on a chopping board with the side of a heavy knife. Add the cardamom, turmeric and cumin to the oil and fry for a minute until fragrant.
Add the finely chopped onion along with the spices and cook with them until soft.
Add the rice and stir until it is coated with the spice and oil mixture
Pour over the stock, add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and give a quick stir. Add a little salt.
Programme the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes with the keep warm function switched on.
Once cooked allow a natural pressure release (NPR) for 18 minutes. The rice will have absorbed all the liquid.
Fluff with a fork before serving.
To prevent a burn error
- Sauté on low and switch off before you add the rice. If the pot is too hot the stock will boil when you add it too much will evaporate and you won't have enough liquid. If this happens add another 1/4 cup of water.
- After adding the liquid scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure there isn't any onion or spices stuck to the bottom.
- You can leave the onion out for an even simpler dish.
- When cooking recipes that use half an onion, I dice one whole onion, and freeze what I haven't used in an airtight container. Onion fries well from frozen; it's a great time saver.
- You can of course use different spices. How about half a lemon rind to make lemon rice?
- There is no need to rinse the rice. However, if you do rinse the rice then reduce the amount of stock by 2 tbs
- The rule for cooking rice in an Instant Pot is to use the same quantity of liquid to rice by volume.
- Make ahead, cool and keep in the fridge for no more than 48 hours.
- Leftovers can be frozen - Pack into an empty takeaway container, allow to cool and then freeze.
- Use hot broth or stock so the Instant Pot comes to pressure quicker and speeds up the total cooking time.
- You can increase quantities, but don't make less of this recipe as the Instant Pot needs a full cup of liquid to come to pressure. If in doubt check the user manual for your electric pressure cooker.
- This recipe is worth 8 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion