Fluffy and aromatic, made with whole spices, mushrooms and herbs. Indian mushroom rice, also known as mushroom pilau, is a great side dish to serve with curry like mutton korma, or on its own.
Pilau is probably one of the oldest names for what most Americans know as pilaf. It was probably brought to India from Persia. From India it spread around the world giving us pilaf, Greek pilafi, Spanish paella, and the national dish of Uzbekistan: plov. Eventually it came to the United States, and gave us modern pilaf and dishes like South Carolina perlo.
How traditional modern Indian mushroom rice recipes are could be up for debate. The dish is often called British Indian restaurant (BIR) style mushroom fried rice. Curry houses in the U.K. speed up the process by stir-frying cooked white rice with mushrooms and spices to order.
Most recipes call for chestnut mushrooms. Confusing if you're American, this is a British name for cremini or baby bellas. The name can also refer to other mushrooms like pholiota.
Regular white button mushrooms and the like are ok in a pinch. But, if you want to use a cultivated mushroom, I recommend shiitakes.
Inspired by Indian cuisine and because I love mushrooms, I made the version pictured with Gucchi (morels), so you could call it a gucchi mushroom pulao. Morels grow in the foot hills of the Himalayas and there's a few traditional dishes made with them.
Step by Step Process
If you can cook rice, you can make this. Heat some oil and toast a few whole spices like cumin seed, cardamom and cinnamon. Add mushrooms, onions and spices soaked rice and water or stock. Cook until fluffy and serve with a curry.
- Substitute sweet curry powder for the tumeric.
- Add a pinch of garam masala.
- British restaurants often add frozen peas.
- Fried sliced onions are also used as a garnish sometimes.
- Some people add a minced green chili (serrano). Skip this if you'll serve it with a spicy curry.
- Serve it on it's own for lunch with a spoonful of cucumber raita.
- Saffron infused milk can be substituted for tumeric.
- I often make pilafs with rice toasted until golden in an oven instead of soaked rice for a nutty flavor.
- Add another mushroom like dried trumpets or hen of the woods.
Indian Mushroom Rice (Pilau)
- 1 measuring spoons
- 1 Small saucepot with lid
- 1 cup Basmati rice or long grain rice. Adjust the cooking liquid if you use a different rice.
- 8 ounces Mushrooms such as shiitakes. See my notes on using dried mushrooms.
- 2 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter) coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1.5 cups Chicken stock or vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt reduce to ¼ teaspoon if your stock contains salt
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 Cardamom pods lightly crushed
- ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 inch Piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 Tbsp Ginger garlic paste buy this at an ethnic market or make your own by pureeing equal parts garlic and ginger.
- Chopped cilantro coriander
Soak the rice
- Soak the rice in 4 cups of water for twenty minutes, then rinse in a colander. Drain the rice and reserve. Heat the ghee until hot and add the cardamom and cumin seed.
- Cook for a few minutes on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re released their juice. Add the onions, green chili if using, as well as the ginger garlic paste. Cook three minutes more.
- Add the turmeric powder, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Deglaze with the stock. Add the soaked rice and bring to a simmer.
- Turn the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Allow the rice to rest with the lid on for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork, and serve piping hot.
- Make sure to watch for the cardamom pods as you eat.