Love the colourful pilau rice you get in Indian restaurants? Well, now you can make your own! Better still, this easy peasy recipe for Multicoloured Pilau Rice is ready in just 30 minutes, and practically foolproof! The perfect accompaniment to a homemade curry.
This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!
Indian Restaurant Style Pilau Rice
Have you ever wondered how to make the multi-coloured pilau rice you typically find in Indian restaurants and takeaways? Well, wonder no more, because I have the answer for you and it’s surprisingly simple…
The ‘secret’ to Multicoloured Pilau Rice
The ‘secret’ to creating that lovely colourful pilau rice that you get in Indian restaurants is to use edible coloured powders to add colour to just a small amount of the cooked rice.
First you need to make regular pilau rice, which is just white basmati rice, flavoured with onions, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves.
When the pilau rice is cooked, you add a very small amount of each coloured powder to a small section of the rice. You should end up with 3 little coloured sections on the top of the rice. Then wait 3 minutes, before stirring all the rice together so the coloured rice grains are well mixed in, giving you that beautiful multicoloured effect.
(Full instructions in the recipe card below.)
Tips for making perfect multicoloured pilau rice
This colourful pilau rice is very easy to make (it’s virtually foolproof!), so long as you are careful to follow the following 4 tips:
- Only use a teeny-tiny amount of the coloured powders – I recommend about 1/8 of a teaspoon. A little goes a long way!
- Carefully stir each coloured powder into a small section of the rice, so the powder is well mixed in.
- Only colour a VERY small section of the rice with the coloured powders.
- Always wait 3 minutes before stirring the coloured sections into the rice.
Nothing very terrible will happen if you don’t follow the above advice. It’s just that the coloured powders are very strong and it’s quite easy to overdo it and end up with multicoloured pilau rice that’s a bit TOO colourful. (It will still taste delicious, though!)
Where do I get edible coloured powders from?
You can get edible coloured powders to easily from Amazon. I use this set of 4 edible coloured powders*. (You only need a really tiny amount each time, so this quantity will last you for a really long time!)
It might also be possible to buy edible coloured powders from some larger supermarkets, but I couldn’t find them in my local supermarket, so Amazon is probably the best option for most people.
Can I make this with liquid or gel food colouring?
No! To make multicoloured pilau rice, you need to use powdered food colouring. It won’t work with food colouring liquids or gels.
Which colours should I use?
You can use any colours you like to make Multicoloured Pilau Rice. However, I recommend red, green and yellow for the best effect. That’s typically the colours Indian Restaurants use. (Or at least the Indian Restaurants I go to!)
What to serve with Multicoloured Pilau Rice
This colourful pilau rice goes brilliantly with a homemade curry – especially my Easy Chicken Dhansak! (Shown in the photos)
Other good options, include…
- Easy Peasy Lamb Curry
- Easy Peasy Beef Curry
- Easy Peasy Butter Chicken
- Slow Cooked Chicken Bhuna
- Easy Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala
- Easy Prawn Jalfrezi
- Easy Vegetable Korma (Vegan)
Check out all my homemade curries here >>> Easy Peasy Homemade Curries
What to do with leftover pilau rice
Put any leftover rice in a lidded container and place in the fridge where it will keep for 1 day. Reheat it until it is piping hot, before eating immediately.
Please take care to follow food safety guidelines when it comes to storing and reheating cooked rice.
Can you freeze pilau rice?
Yes you can. Put any leftover rice in a lidded container and place in the freezer within 1 hour of cooking, where it will keep for 1 month. Defrost your rice overnight in the fridge and reheat it until it is piping hot, before eating immediately.
Please take care to follow food safety guidelines when it comes to freezing, defrosting and reheating cooked rice.
If you like this recipe…
… you might also like to try my other pilau rice recipes:
Multicoloured Pilau Rice (Like you get in Indian restaurants)
- 25 g butter (you can use ghee or 2 tablespoons of olive oil, if you prefer)
- 1 onion diced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom pods gently bashed to open
- 2 cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 300 g basmati rice
- 600 ml boiling water
- Edible coloured powders in yellow, red and green I used THESE ONES
- Melt the butter very gently in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the diced onion, stir and cover with a lid. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes until the onions are soft but not brown, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cinnamon stick, bashed cardamom pods, cloves, salt and bay leaves. Fry gently for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Add a small splash of water if it gets too dry!)
- Add in the basmati rice and stir to coat the rice with the spices.
- Pour in 600ml boiling water and bring back to the boil. Cover with a lid and turn the heat right down. Continue cooking for 8 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. (See Note 1.)
- Turn the heat off completely (take the saucepan off the burner if you are using electric), but leave the lid on. Allow the rice to steam for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and place 1/8 teaspoon of yellow coloured powder onto a small section of the rice – mix it into the top of that section of rice a little. (See Note 2.)
- Repeat for the red and then the green powders. You should end up with 3 little coloured sections on the top of the rice. Take care not to colour too much of the rice or to use too much powder, or it will not give you the desired effect.
- Wait 3 minutes, then stir all the rice together so the coloured rice grains are well mixed in, giving you a beautiful multicoloured effect.
- Serve with your favourite homemade curry!
- Rice cooking times do vary, so be sure to check packet instructions. I have used these exact timings with both Tesco Basmati Rice and Tilda Basmati Rice, and it comes out perfectly every time. If you find your rice is not sufficiently cooked after following the instructions above, simply add a little more water (if necessary) and cook a little longer. However, take care not to overcook!
- Take care to use a REALLY TINY amount of the coloured powders – as tiny amount as is possible. A little goes a REALLY long way! The idea is that you only want to colour a very tiny number of rice grains… so that, once mixed in, it gives you a beautiful multicoloured effect. If you colour too many grains, it won’t look so good! (It will still taste nice, though!)
- Suitable for freezing. (Take care to follow food safety guidelines when it comes to freezing, defrosting and reheating cooked rice.)
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!