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The Zakarian Family's Fragrant Rice Pilaf

Courtesy Margaret Zakarian
Cook Time:
26 mins

Chef notes

We really, really like to eat rice and, being Lebanese, rice pilaf ranks high on our list of favorite sides. With this recipe from our new cookbook, we’ve switched up the traditional version by adding a few extra ingredients. The enchanting smell of the dish comes from taking the time at the beginning of the recipe to toast the spices.


  • 4 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups basmati
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced



Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat.


Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Do not let the onions caramelize. Add the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 


Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.


Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Remove pot from the heat. 


Sprinkle the raisins and almonds over the rice, fluff with a fork and serve.