We show you how to make onion basmati rice, the best savoury side dish to Indian or Arabic dishes.
A quick, easy way to add flavour to plain rice. Similar to what you get from Indian Restaurant or Takeaway.
Fried onions with garlic, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom pods added for a gentle spice. Cooked with long grain basmati rice to create what is otherwise known as a Pilau, Pilaf or Pulao rice.
Perfect served with meat, poultry, fish, vegetables or curry and stew recipes.
How to make Onion Basmati Rice at home?
Below you will find a quick slideshow of all the steps involved to cooking rice with onion at home.
The ingredients need are given in both UK grams and millilitres & US cup measurements in the recipe card.Jump to Recipe
Continue reading for more tips on how to make the best Persian / Indian style rice.
How to add flavour to plain basmati rice
Rice as a side is often overlooked and served plain. But we like to add a little extra to our rice.
With 5 simple ingredients added to basmati rice, it turns your side dish from boring plain rice, to the best flavoursome rice dish
We chose to use garlic & onion with cinnamon, cardamom and cumin but feel free to try other ingredients.
A pilaf (also known as a pilau or pulao) is a rice dish cooked with vegetables and spices. There are many vegetables and spices that can be used.
How to cook soft onions?
One of the most important tips for this recipe is to make your onions really soft before adding the rice.
You don't want fried or crispy onions you want them soft so they will melt in your mouth.
To achieve this, sauté the diced onions in olive oil at low heat until soft and translucent, golden in colour. This should take about 8 minutes, be patient, don't turn the heat up!
If you are impatient you can use this fabulous product called Eazy Onions, which are already cooked so only need to be warmed up!!
Once the onions are soft and golden add the garlic, cinnamon stick, cumin and cardamon pods.
Should I wash basmati rice before cooking?
For best results, you should give Basmati Rice a little rinse with cold water through a sieve or allow to sit in cold water before draining and cooking to get rid of excess starch before cooking.
Stir the rinsed basmati rice into the onion, spices and garlic and add cold water with a sprinkle of salt and bring to boil.
Water to rice ratio?
This onion rice recipe serves 4 people as a side. But you can easily cook extra. The simple rule for water to rice ratio is double the amount of water to rice.
So what ever you measure the rice in simply double the amount of water.
Once the rice has reached a furious boil, stir, turn down to simmer & leave to cook on low for 8 minutes WITH LID ON. Do not peek it will ruin the end result.
After 8 minutes turn heat off, leave the lid on still for a further 5 minutes.
Use a fork to fluff the grains up and look out for the cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. Remove them from the onion rice before serving.
What to serve with Onion Basmati Rice
- King Prawn Masala
- Mixed with chopped ham, sweetcorn & fried egg
- Vegan Kung Pao
- Grilled meat
- Chicken Drumsticks
- Chilli con Carne
- Basa Fish Curry
- Seabream with Chilli and Garlic
- Korean Beef
How to store rice?
Onion rice can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container to use as a side to other meals for up to 3 days.
When reheating rice make, sure it is piping hot before serving.
Onion Basmati Rice
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 large Onion diced
- 280 g (1 ¼ cup) Basmati Rice It is best to rinse rice before cooking to get rid of excess starch
- 1 Cinnamon stick substitute with ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 3 Cardamon pods
- 1 tsp Garlic Puree or 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 600 ml (2 ½ cups) Cold Water
- Sprinkle of salt to taste
- Saute diced onions in olive oil at low heat until soft and golden coloured. This should take about 8 minutes.Be patient, don't turn the heat up you want them soft fried not crispy! Once softened, add the garlic, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and ground cumin to the onions. Stir through.
- Stir the rinsed rice with the onion and spice.
- Add cold water and a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil, once at a furious boil, place a lid on and reduce the heat to the lowest setting for 8 minutes. Do not lift the lid at any point!
- After 8 mins, turn the heat off. But, still, keep the lid in place, let it stand for 5 more minutes. Fluff it up with a fork. Remove cardamom pods and cinnamon stick before serving.
This post was originally published on 12/10/2019 and has been modified on 13/03/2021. With updated step by steps. Tips for how to make Indian style onion rice.
When ordering an Indian takeaway we often make our own rice to go with it. Cooked quicker than the time it takes to arrive and costs next to nothing compared to the price of the curry takeaway rice!
If you liked this Onion Basmati rice side dish, why not check out our Coconut Pilau Rice for another great rice option.