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Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf with Currants, Barberries and Almonds

Last week I cooked up a Middle Eastern feast. I’ve already posted about the green veggie meatballs with tomato sauce. Now I bring you the recipe for brown basmati rice pilaf with currants, barberries and almonds.

Middle Eastern food is probably my favourite cuisine, though I also love Asian food, Italian and many British classics. I think it must be in my genes. However, I rarely make rice pilaf. I’ve no idea why as it’s easy to make and creates a celebratory air to a meal. I’m so glad I pushed the boat out a little this time. It complimented the tomato sauce and green veggie balls wonderfully.

Suma Products

I received the main ingredients to make this brown basmati rice pilaf in my last Suma order. Just in case you don’t know, Suma is a long established whole food worker’s co-operative which supplies both shops and individuals with all sorts of healthy and organic foods as well as their own branded products. They’re an organisation I’ve long admired and I’m delighted to work with them as part of the Suma Blogger’s Network. 

Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf

Brown basmati rice pilaf is simple to make and quick to put together. Having said that, rice always benefits from pre-soaking, so a little planning, whilst not necessary, is useful. If you like fluffy rice which doesn’t clump together, this is a good way to prepare it. You may want to be a bit more careful with the nuts than I was though and not burn them – oops! The cinnamon and cardamom give a mild but welcome spicy note. The currants provide bursts of sweetness whereas the barberries offset this with a tangy sourness. The nuts are crunchy and delicious, even if a little charred. All in all, this is a delicious way of serving rice and well worth making to accompany many Middle Eastern dishes. Fit for an Oriental potentate, quipped CT. I don’t know if he was imagining his harem favourite spooning this into his mouth, but he seemed to enjoy it.

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Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf with Currents, Barberries and Almonds

A luscious lightly spiced fruity rice pilaf with fried almonds. A fantastic addition to any Middle Eastern feast.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Servings: 6 people
Author: Choclette @ Tin and Thyme


  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 50 g currants
  • 25 g dried barberries
  • 240 g brown basmati rice
  • 750 ml hot water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 75 g whole almonds


  • Soak the rice in warm water for at least 2 hours before cooking. Wash and drain well.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan.
  • Throw in the cinnamon and cardamom pods and fry for a couple of minutes or until you can smell the spices.
  • Add the currants and barberries. Stir and allow to sizzle for a minute or so.
  • Stir in the rice until all the grains are well coated in oil.
  • Add the water and salt and bring to the boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to lowest setting and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave covered for ten minutes to continue steaming.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan. Add the nuts and fry them over a moderate heat for 5 minutes or so. Keep stirring and be careful not to let them burn.
  • Fluff up the rice with a fork. Turn out into a serving dish and top with the almonds.


Soaking rice aids digestion and helps to reduce cooking time. If you don't have time to soak the rice, you will need a little more water and a further 5-10 minutes cooking time. Warn diners that there are cardamom pods to look out for.


Suma Bloggers NetworkThis brown basmati rice pilaf with currents, barberries and almonds is my eighth recipe for the Suma Blogger’ Network.


Other rice recipes you might like

Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf – Pin It!

Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf

Some of the ingredients for this recipe were provided by Suma. I was not expected to write a positive review and all opinions are, as always, my own. Thanks to my readers for supporting the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blythe and blogging. 


  1. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    25th March 2017 at 11:23 am

    The rice must be very delicious with sesame oil! Did you use toasted sesame seed oil or cold pressed?

    • Choclette

      28th March 2017 at 9:56 am

      I’d normally use butter with this type of dish, but I thought I’d try it with sesame oil. I used cold pressed rather than toasted, but now you come to mention it, a little toasted sesame oil as a final finish would have been a good idea.

  2. Dom

    25th March 2017 at 6:12 pm

    that rice genuinely looks stunning! I love that almonds on top too… I would devour this.

    • Choclette

      28th March 2017 at 9:52 am

      Warm crunchy almonds that haven’t been charred are an absolute delight 😉

  3. Nayna Kanabar

    27th March 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Your rice dish sounds delicios, I lovevmiddle Eastern flavours and you have really inspired me to go and recreate this dish.

    • Choclette

      28th March 2017 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Nayna. I expect you’ll put your own twist on it, but do let me know how you get on.

  4. Helen @

    27th March 2017 at 8:54 pm

    This looks gorgeous, and I love the sound of those flavours together. Delicious!

    • Choclette

      28th March 2017 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Helen. I don’t know why I don’t make pilaf more often.

  5. Angela

    27th March 2017 at 10:46 pm

    This looks amazing, I love pilaf and I really like the detail you’ve gone into as I hate it when my rice clumps together.

    • Choclette

      28th March 2017 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Angela. There is something very unappealing about stodgy rice I find.

  6. Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours

    28th March 2017 at 10:05 am

    Lovely lovely recipe! I think rice is one of my favourite things and I love all the flavours you have added to it here. It is a meal in itself.

    • Choclette

      28th March 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks Helen. Rice is wonderful stuff. It’s hard to imagine a diet without it.

  7. Laura@howtocookgoodfood

    28th March 2017 at 10:33 am

    I like you love Middle eastern food so much. It’s so versatile and so healthy tasting and this brown basmati pilau is such a great example of how interesting and delicious arias dish can be compared to serving regular boiled rice. I’d eat this as a main course anytime!

    • Choclette

      28th March 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks Laura. I’m not sure using brown rice is desperately authentic, but I do actually prefer the flavour as well as the health benefits.

  8. Nico @ yumsome

    29th March 2017 at 10:32 am

    This looks rather fab, Choclette – and so easy too. I’ve never seen barberries here but I bet pomegranate arils would work really well instead!

    I like that you have a similar attitude toward rice as me – I love the stuff! When I lived in South Asia, it was not unknown for me to eat it three or four times a day! Ha ha! Have you ever tried red Thai rice? It’s absolutely wonderful – really nutty and flavoursome.

    By the way, in the body of your post, did you mean to say coriander?

    “The cinnamon and coriander give a mild but welcome spicy note.”

    It’s just that that there’s no coriander listed in the recipe – did you mean cardamom?

    • Choclette

      29th March 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Barberries are a bit tarter than pomegranates, but I’m sure they’d do a good job. I’ve not tried red Thai rice, so that’s something to look out for.

      Thanks for pointing out my typo. I meant cardamom of course 🙂

  9. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    29th March 2017 at 11:11 am

    Well I am just loving all those flavors and textures! What a lovely side dish!

    • Choclette

      29th March 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Thanks Rebecca. I should really tart up my rice a bit more often. It’s so good.

  10. Elinor Kugler

    29th March 2017 at 1:10 pm

    I’m loving this rice! It’s packed with flavorful ingredients, that I love, and looks very appetizing!
    I might just make a double load of the almonds, to eat while I wait for the rice, haha! They look Super crunchy 🙂

    • Choclette

      29th March 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Making a double batch of almonds is a sound idea Elinor, only don’t burn them like I did – oops!

  11. Amy Beeton

    30th March 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Haven’t tried Barberries before. I’m intrigued! Looks like you made great use of the Suma Basmatti. Cooked to perfection 🙂

    • Choclette

      30th March 2017 at 1:10 pm

      Barberries are great for adding additional flavour to rice dishes. A little goes a long way though, they are very tart.


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