Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This delicious basmati rice is studded with dried fruit and almonds, and scented with cumin, cinnamon and turmeric.

Studded with dried fruit and almonds, and scented with warm spices, this basmati rice pilaf pairs beautifully with my Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs, Lamb Kofta, or Grilled Moroccan Meatballs.

What you’ll need to make Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Basmati is a type of rice grown in the Himalayas and Pakistan. It’s incredibly fragrant with a light nutty flavor. “Bas” in Hindi language actually means “aroma” and “mati” means “full of,” hence the word Basmati — or “full of aroma.” The grains are long, slender and fluffy compared to standard white rice.

How to make Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Almonds

It’s always a good idea to rinse basmati rice, otherwise, it will be gummy and stick together.  It only takes a minute or two — simply place the rice in a bowl with water and then swish it around to release any excess starch. Rinse the rice in several changes of water until the water runs almost clear.

Let the rice drain in a fine mesh strainer, then move on to the pilaf by melting the butter in a medium pot.

Add the onions and cook over gentle heat until soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant.

Next, toss in the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.

Add the water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer over low heat until the rice is cooked, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the dried fruit over top, then cover loosely and let sit for about 10 minutes. (As you can see, I used a combination of currants and chopped apricots but feel free to use whatever you like.)

Finally, toss in the almonds and fluff the pilaf with a fork.

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted and modified from Cooks Illustrated

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Basmati Pilaf with Dried Fruits and Almonds

This delicious basmati rice is studded with dried fruit and almonds, and scented with cumin, cinnamon and turmeric.

Servings: 4


  • 1-1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions, from one small onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as currants, raisins or finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted until golden


  1. Place rice in medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Using your hands, gently swish grains to release any excess starch. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl. Repeat four to five times, until water runs almost clear. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice. Place strainer over bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic to sautéed onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add rice to pot, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper to rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, 15-18 minutes. Off heat, remove lid, and sprinkle dried fruit over rice (do not mix in). Place lid loosely over pot and let stand 10 minutes. Toss in toasted almonds, fluff rice with a fork, then serve.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 378
  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated fat: 6g
  • Carbohydrates: 60g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Sodium: 740mg
  • Cholesterol: 23mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • We make this recipe all the time, I add twice the dried fruit. However, last night it became a castiorn oven dish with bonless chicken thighs. Good eats.

    • — Dwight on February 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I added a piece of cinnamon bark instead of the ground cinnamon for an aromatic element.

    • — Zoe Campbell on February 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Fantastic. My kids scarfed it up. I am making a double batch next time. Combine it with Jenn’s Grilled Moroccan Chicken. Make extra for leftovers. So delicious.

    • — Anne on February 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn, do you think this would be good made with chicken broth instead of water, or would that overpower the other delicate flavors?

    • — Tiina on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Tina, I think it would be fine but I’d cut back on the added salt a bit. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks!

        • — Tiina on February 5, 2021
        • Reply
      • Hi Jen, Awesome recipe I was just wondering if I could forego using butter and instead use oil since I’m dairy free? And if so what kind of oil would you suggest.

        • — ari on March 4, 2021
        • Reply
        • Sure, Ari, you could use olive oil in place of the butter. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on March 4, 2021
          • Reply
  • It’s is my “go to” side dish for ANY Mediterranean entree. I especially like it using brown basmati rice. In a pinch I’ve even used pre-cooked microwave rice in a pouch (heat, add a few tablespoons of water and add to the onions) – the flavor isn’t as good, but so much better than a standard rice pilaf. I love it with dates and apricots as the dried fruit.

    • — Susan Miller on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this yesterday to go with the Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs. The two make a great pair. I am always looking for different things to do with rice to spice it up. I should have read a bit ahead as I mixed my cranberries and almonds but next time I will know. The family enjoyed the rice.

    • — Ericka on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is absolutely delicious! Made it for dinner but kept on taking bites before the meal because I couldn’t help myself. The apricots and nuts complement the flavor of the rice so well – I am usually skeptical about fruit in savory dishes but this combo was perfect!

    • — Jess K on January 30, 2021
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  • All my guests loved this wonderful rice dish. Looks and tastes gorgeous.
    I made it exactly as written using currants and apricots, as well as adding pistachio nuts in with the toasted almonds.
    Beautiful colourful rice dish, perfect with Turkish kebabs, seasoned with Urfa pepper flakes and sumac, cacik sauce and Greek salad.
    As usual everything in the rice recipe was thought out perfectly.

    Thank you Jenn for another wonderful recipe.

    • — Elaina on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This rice is SO good and easy to make. My picky husband often requests this because it is super delicious!

    • — Karise on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • So delicious! We use currants AND diced apricots. One tip…check your fluid to rice ratio on your basmati rice package, as well as cooking time…we’ve had crunchy rice when I changed rice brands. But it is really yummy with the Middle Eastern Kebabs!

    • — Jodi on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Such an easy and delicious way to prepare rice that’s a bit more special. I served this pilaf as a side to the Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs. The two dishes really worked well together. In fact, the meal was such a big hit that my husband asked me to add it to our dinner rotation.

    • — Lisa on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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