Bengali Pilaf #1

A fragrant twist to the regular rice and a delicious way of upgrading your daily meal, this Pilaf is easy to make and an ideal companion to curries, stir-fries, or a simple salad. The midweek upgrade to boost your mood.

Cookbooks are a treasure trove – not simply of recipes but history, information and above all, stories. It is one such much-loved and speckled cookbook that gave insight into the probable origins of a version of Bengali Pilaf that I’ve favoured for a while now.

The Bengali Pilaf #1 is a version of the Bahu Khuda Bhaat or The Hungry Bride Pilaf. As the story goes, once upon a time, back when the women of a household would have their meal only after the men and children had theirs, a bride realised all the pots and pants were empty! Not one to be deprived of a tasty meal after a long day of work, she whipped together this quick (and delicious) pilaf. I sincerely hope she enjoyed her meal more than the rest of the family because, personally, I’m still upset over the insensitivity of the family!

The Bengali Pilaf #1 aka the Bahut Khuda Bhaat aka The Hungry Bride Pilaf is ideal for parties. Another favourite party pilaf would be the Ghee Bhaat, loaded with nuts and fragrant with the aroma of ghee. But I digress.

The Bengali Pilaf #1 is the kind that comes together in a jiffy and adds that something special to your daily meal. The strong aroma of onions – the only vegetable used in this pilaf – is amazing paired with simple chicken curry, Omelette Curry, Bengali Mutton Curry, Dahi Matar Paneer or even the Narkel Malai Murg. Add some sliced onion rings drizzled with fresh lemon juice on the side and you’ve got yourself a hearty, special meal for tough days and moods.


  • I’d recommend using the long-grain Basmati rice. But if you don’t have it in stock, go ahead and make this pilaf with regular rice.
  • Frying onions can be a tad bit tricky. Cooked too long and they turn into bitter, crispy shards. The solution – stir frequently and don’t turn your attention from these frying bits for more than a few seconds.
  • The amount of water used to cook the rice will depend on the cooking medium. I made the pilaf in a non-stick soup pot and used 2 & 1/4 cups of hot water.
  • The general rule of rice and water ratio is an equal amount of rice and water for pressure cooker; rice and double amount of water for the pot.
  • But remember, quality of rice, cooking temperature, cooking medium have an impact on the cooking time so I’d recommend sticking to trying this recipe with rice you can handle.

Do let me know if you try this recipe! Leave a comment and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram at from.the.corner.table and hashtag it #fromthecornertable. I’d love to see it ❤️

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Bengali Pilaf #1
Cook Time
30 mins
A fragrant twist to the regular rice and a delicious way of upgrading your daily meal, this Bengali Pilaf is easy to make and an ideal companion to curries, stir-fries, or a simple salad.
Course: Main
Cuisine: Bengali (Indian)
Keyword: pilaf, rice
Servings: 2 people
  • 200 grams Basmati rice (washed, dried)
  • 160 grams Onions (sliced)
  • 2 Green chillies (slit lengthwise)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 3 tbsp Mustard oil
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • Hot water*
  1. Toss the washed and dried rice in 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder and set aside.
  2. In a pan, heat oil to smoking point. Add half the sliced onions (approximately) 80 grams.

  3. Fry the onions till golden brown and slightly crisp. Drain and set aside.

  4. Transfer the rice, uncooked onions and green chillies into the remaining oil.

  5. Stir fry till the rice changes colour and the onion slices are slightly scorched.

  6. Add the hot water, along with salt, sugar and fried onions.

  7. Cover and cook till the rice is soft.

  8. Serve hot with accompaniment of choice.