This fragrant rice with ghee and whole spices (shada pulao) recipe comes from Dina's book Made in Bangladesh: Recipes and Stories from a Home Kitchen, (£28, Hardie).

Dina says: "The scent of onions caramelising in fat is universally regarded as wonderful – and, in this case, it’s made even more so with a generous amount of ghee coating each grain of rice with its nutty aroma. When I was growing up, pulao meant one thing: dawats, or feasts, with aunties and cousins dressed in their finery. Cooked using the absorption method of one part rice to two parts water, this recipe can be quickly rustled up when you’re entertaining, or feel like treating yourself to something to accompany a curry or stew. Any leftovers make a great brunch dish with a fried egg on top."

This is a recipe that Dina shared as part of her guide to Bangladeshi cuisine. Check it out to learn more about the complex flavours of this South Asian country, including whole braised chicken in rich gravy (duruj kura) and firni. Then discover our Asian street food recipes.

Fragrant rice with ghee and whole spices (shada pulao) recipe


  • 400g basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick cassia bark
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 green chillies


  • STEP 1

    Wash the rice in several changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then drain using a sieve and set aside.

  • STEP 2

    Heat the ghee in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, fry the onion, bay and whole spices for 10-12 mins, or until golden.

  • STEP 3

    Remove half the onion from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper to keep it crispy.

  • STEP 4

    Reduce the heat to medium and add the salt and rice to the pan with the remaining onion. Gently toast the rice for 30 seconds, then pour in 800ml of boiling water and stir to ensure the rice hasn’t stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the chillies.

  • STEP 5

    Increase the heat to high and cook, uncovered, for 5 mins, or until most of the water has been absorbed. Once you notice small holes appearing on the surface of the rice, reduce the heat to low and gently stir once. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 12-15 mins. Take off the heat and leave to rest for 5 mins, still covered. Gently fluff up with a fork and garnish with the crispy onions before serving.


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