Shrimp Pilaf “Pulao”

This pilaf is every one’s favorite. If I get unexpected guests, this is what usually gets made. A one pot meal which has protein, carbs and vegetable. Easy, simple and sure to win compliments from your family and friends. This rice gets it’s flavor from the spices like cardamom, cloves and especially star anise. The shrimp just enhances the flavor. If making it for vegetarians, skip the shrimp. Simple ingredients and great taste.

Sunday meals at our house were always elaborate. Since both my parents were working, Sunday was the official family day where we would all sit down together for a lavish afternoon meal. There was always two types of seafood, either a fried fish and a curry (crab or what ever was fresh at the fish market), some meat , rice , salad and a vegetable. I would look forward to Sunday mornings to go with my dad to the Fort fish market. The craziness of bargaining with the fish mongers, checking to see if the fish was fresh, the commotion….. all of it was fun.

And since the afternoon meal was so heavy we would go light at night. Sometimes my mom would make a soup and sandwich for dinner, or make this pilaf that didn’t require too much work. We would take the leftovers the next day in our school lunch box. A real treat.

Note: Star anise has a licorice flavor and many times I throw in a couple while cooking plain rice too.


  • 1 cup rice, washed, I use long grain basmati rice, soak the rice for 1/2 hr
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined) I like the white shrimp
  • 6 -7 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 small onions chopped finely
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 5 green cardamom
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tej patha(Bay leaf)
  • 2-3 whole black peppercorns
  • 3/4 teaspoon red chilly powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • salt to taste.


  1. Heat oil in a vessel.  Add cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamoms, star anise, tej patha, peppercorns. Add the onions and brown them to a nice caramel color.
  2. While the onions are browning, drain the rice that is soaking in the water and add red chilly powder, and turmeric.
  3.  Add the shrimp and peas to the browned onions.
  4. Then add the rice and sauté well. Add salt to taste.
  5. Fry this for minute to make sure the grains are well coated with the oil on medium heat.

6.  Add 2 cups water and let it cook.

7.  Keep an eye on the rice, after 10- 15 minutes the water in the rice will  evaporate. Make the gas low and put a lid on top and let it steam for around 5 minutes. After 5 minutes turn the gas off.

8.  Keep the lid on and let it steam for another 5-10 minutes. 


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