Perfect pilaf rice needs to have grains that are fully cooked and separate but still light and fluffy. You don’t want the rice to be sticky, mushy or soft or the dish will fail.
How much rice and water do you need?
Use a ratio of 1 cup of rice to two and a half cups of cold water.
To get the perfect result, use basmati rice and rinse it five or six times to remove the starch which would otherwise make it stick. Once the water runs clear, it is ready to cook.
How to cook the rice for Pilau
1. Put the rice in the saucepan with the cold water and bring the water to the boil with the lid off.
2. When the water boils, turn the heat to low, put the lid on and leave it to cook without lifting the lid for the first 8-10 minutes. After that you can take a peep. When holes appear in the top of the rice, bite into a grain. If it is still firm or still has a bit of bite in it, it is not fully cooked. Continue cooking before checking it again a minute or two later. The rice is cooked when it is soft but still firm. The grains should not collapse in your mouth.
3. Turn off the heat, place a sheet of kitchen towel on top of the rice, put the lid back on and leave it to sit for a few minutes. The paper will absorb the steam, the rice will dry out and you can fluff up the rice with a fork.
If you want to colour half the rice yellow for a more attractive presentation, place half the rice in one saucepan with a good pinch of turmeric, add half the water and cook as above. Cook the other half of the rice as normal, but don’t add turmeric. When both are cooked, mix the yellow and white rice together and serve. If you have the heart for it, you can divide the rice in three, colour one part yellow, colour another quantity with a little red food colouring and cook the third part as normal, leaving it white. That way you end up with red, yellow and white rice. This really only works when you are cooking rice for 4 or more people.