Spinach Cilantro Pilaf

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To make Pilaf, rice is first sautéed, often with aromatic spices before any liquid is added. You can become creative and flavour with many different kinds of diced vegetables, leafy greens or toasted nuts. Spinach Cilantro Pilaf is one of our household favourites.  You can also make plain spinach pilaf without cilantro or use just plain cilantro without adding spinach.


Heat the cooking vessel. Add spinach, cilantro and green chilies and sauté it for 2-3 minutes until most of the water from the spinach evaporates. Transfer the contents into a blender and blend it along with coconut, ginger garlic paste (you can also use fresh 1-inch ginger and 6 garlic cloves) into a smooth paste.

Heat the cooking vessel and add the spices (cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves). Allow the cumin to splutter and then add tomatoes. Sauté it for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the blended spinach-cilantro paste and sauté it for another 2 minutes. Add the drained rice and sauté it for 2-3 minutes. There are different ways you can cook this rice: Instant Pot, rice cooker, pressure cooker, or in the cooking vessel itself. I use the Instant Pot for faster cooking.

Transfer the contents into the Instant Pot, add water until you reach the 3 cups mark and turn it on. The rice is usually cooked in 12 minutes using the Instant Pot settings. If cooking in the vessel itself, add 5 cups of water and cook the rice in low-medium heat with the lid on until rice turns soft. Alternatively, you can also use a rice cooker or regular pressure cooker and cook as per the directions.

Once the rice is cooked, allow it to rest for a few minutes. Fluff the rice and garnish with toasted cashew nuts and caramelized or fried onions (optional). This rice goes well with yogurt dip or raitha.



3 cups of brown basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
1 bag of (110z/316g) spinach, washed
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
4 green chilies
2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
4 tablespoons of grated coconut
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
3 cardamom pods
2-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 tomatoes, chopped