A pilaff is oil- or butter-enriched rice, cooked until the liquid, usually stock, has been absorbed, and then a few other cooked or sautéed ingredients such as prawns, mushrooms or peas, are added. The rice is never stirred during the main cooking period.
Pilaff can either be cooked on top of the stove, as here, or cooked, covered, in the oven at 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4. Rinse and soak the rice in water for at least 1 hour before cooking. These quantities.
Melt 25g (1oz) butter in a heavy-based pan and fry 1 finely chopped onion until golden. Add 250 g (8 oz) basmati rice and spices to taste and stir to coat with butter. Cook for 1–2 minutes until the grains are opaque.
Add 300ml (½pint) chicken stock and bring to the boil, stir, then cover the pan and simmer as gently as possible for about 12–15 minutes until tender but still with a slight bite to it. Test for doneness.
If the rice is still too firm, and all the liquid has already absorbed, add a little more liquid, stir in the prepared ingredients and continue cooking until the rice is done. Fluff the rice with a fork and season. Mound on a serving dish.