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Spiced Rice Pilaf

With cardamom and cloves, this spiced rice pilaf will have your house smelling wonderful. It is a versatile dish that can dress up your weeknight table as easily as it can a fancy weeknight dinner.


Today, I’m partnering with Grain Foods Foundation to bring you this Cardamom and Clove Spiced Rice Pilaf.

Growing up in Sri Lanka, it often seemed like rice was the center of just about every meal. For breakfast there was “kiribath“, which consisted of rice cooked in milk; for lunch and dinner, there was usually rice with curries; and birthdays and holidays were often celebrated with “yellow rice” -a highly fragrant rice, often cooked with cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, coconut milk, and saffron and served with cashews, sultanas, hard boiled eggs and peas.


To this day my mom can make “yellow rice” so fragrant, my daughter and I can smell it while we are on the elevator, before we even get to her apartment!

Often times when my cousins visit from New York and my sister flies home from Dallas, they will gladly eat my mom’s yellow rice and curry for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – saying that it is brain food!


My mom’s idea of measuring often involves “a dash of this” or “a pinch of that”…once, she actually specified “a cup of..” and I was beyond stoked – only to find out later that she was referring to the humongous cup she used for her coffee!

So no matter how many times I try to duplicate her “yellow rice”, mine never quite tastes as good.


So today, I tried something different and came up with my version of my mom’s “yellow rice”.

I started off with some onion and garlic sauteing in some olive oil to which I added rice, I also used saffron and cloves and cardamoms but replaced the coconut milk with vegetable stock; and called it simply a Spiced Rice Pilaf.

I threw some toasted black sesame seeds, some peas, and some red pepper on for garnish, leaving off the eggs and cashews and sultanas – making this rice dish a versatile and filling side dish to any #Holidaytable.

Spiced Rice Pilaff

In going over some of the articles on The Grain Foods Foundation website, I found some supporting my cousins and sisters claim that rice was indeed brain food – now I am no expert – so I would love to know what you think?
How do grains affect your physical and/or mental performance?

This post is sponsored by The Grain Foods Foundation. While I received compensation for my time, all opinions are 100% my own.

Spiced Rice Pilaff

Spiced Rice Pilaff

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

With cardamom and cloves, this spiced rice pilaf will have your house smelling wonderful. It is a versatile dish that can dress up your weeknight table as easily as it can a fancy weeknight dinner.


  • 1 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6-7 curry leaves
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • TO GARNISH - red pepper, peas and toasted black sesame seeds


  1. Heat up the cup of water and drop the saffron into it
  2. Add the olive oil to a pan and saute the onion and garlic till onion is translucent
  3. Add the rice and chicken stock and saffron steeped water and bring to a boil
  4. Add the cardamom, cloves, curry leaves, cumin and lower heat and simmer covered for 15-18 minutes till rice is done and stock has been absorbed
  5. Garnish with black sesame seeds, cooked peas and red pepper
  6. Enjoy
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 138Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 0mgSodium 208mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 2gSugar 3gProtein 3g

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A big gray tray with Yellow rice with cardamom and cloves.

Looking for more rice recipes? Then check out this easy, buttery, delicious, vegan yellow rice!

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