This Moroccan pilaf is simple to make but turns out delicious every time. Basmati rice is cooked with raisins, dried fruit and spices for an unforgettable experience!
A delicious but different Mediterranean recipe with rice, mostly because of the spices used. This Moroccan rice Pilaf is made with Basmati rice, raisins and other dried fruit, almonds and spices typical of the Moroccan cuisine.
Located in Northwestern Africa, Morocco is an African country with many European and Middle Eastern influences. These influences, among other things, have formed the Moroccan cuisine, mostly known for the use of spices, couscous, lamb, fruits and nuts. If you're fond of spices and dried fruits then you're going to LOVE this Moroccan baked chicken with 11 spices!
This pilaf recipe features all these fragrant and exotic ingredients, creating a flavorful side dish that can accompany perfectly every grilled meat dish or any other main you have in mind. It is also vegan and gluten-free!
What is Moroccan rice?
Moroccan rice is a side dish made with rice which gets cooked in stock or broth with spices and some other ingredients like dried fruit and nuts. It has a nutty, slightly sweet and earthy taste which is accentuated by the combination of spices used. Sometimes it can also contain meat like chicken or lamp. You will also find it under the name Moroccan Pilaf.
So, is pilaf the same as rice?
In a word, no. Rice is most of the times cooked in water whereas, according to wikipedia pilaf is cooked in an aromatic stock or broth. Pilaf is believed to be of Persian origin and it is much more than just boiled rice, since it absorbs all the flavors and nutrients of the broth.
A Greek example of another type of pilaf is this chicken soup risotto which is usually served in Cretan weddings (the numerous rice grains symbolize abundance, fertility and good luck!).
By now, I’m sure you understand that making pilaf is not hard at all. The simplest way to do it is use any kind of broth/stock instead of water in your favorite rice recipe (check my fluffy rice every time post for tips on how to make fluffy rice every time, with no effort and no rice cooker needed).
How to make this simple Moroccan rice
1. Cook with olive oil: In this pilaf recipe, you briefly sauté an onion with some olive oil, add the spices and a fragrant rice like Basmati (jasmine rice will also do). When the spices get heated, they release all their flavor something that makes this dish deeply aromatic. Sauteing the rice will also give it a nutty taste which pairs perfectly with the rest of the ingredients. So, give it a swirl or two until you notice that it changes color and becomes more white.
2. Simmer: Add the vegetable (or chicken) stock, wait until it starts to boil and then cover the pot, reduce heat to medium/low and simmer until almost all of the liquids are absorbed.
3. Add the dried fruit. At the end of cooking, add the dried fruit and the roasted almonds (pine nuts or hazelnuts are also great), mix gently to combine and let it rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
This pilaf is perfect as a side dish, especially during holidays and celebrations, because all the spices, the almonds and the dried fruit give it a festive character and a rich taste!
Searching for recipes with festive character? This mint and cinnamon creamy cheesecake with matcha ganache will enthuse you!
- A pot with a glass lid works best for this recipe, since you can always check what’s going on inside.
- Wait until almost all of the water is gone, turn off the heat, fluff up the rice, close the lid and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Dried fruit really add to this dish, but try not to overdo it because it can become overly sweet.
- Make your own spice combinations and tell me how it turned out!
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Moroccan rice (pilaf)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves (or 2-3 whole cloves)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom (or 5-6 cardamom pods)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 3 cups vegetable stock or water (you can also use chicken stock if you're not vegan)
- ¼ teaspoon saffron
- 3 dates, finely chopped
- 3 dried apricots, finely chopped
- ¼ cup raisins, chopped
- ¼ cup roasted almonds, crashed
- Saute: Place the onion and the olive oil in a large pot and sauté under medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add cumin, allspice, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, pepper and rice and stir until rice gets a white color, about 2-3 minutes.
- Simmer: Add the stock (or water), salt and saffron, cover the pot and wait until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered until almost all of the water is absorbed, about 5 - 10 minutes.
- Rest: Turn off the heat, add the dried fruits and almonds and stir/fluff up gently with a fork. Cover the pot and let the pilaf rest for 15-20 minutes.
- For a more "al dente" rice you can use 2 ½ cups water.
- Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick (and cloves and cardamom pods if used whole) before serving.
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Delicious! I attended a Morrocan themed potluck and made this recipe; all of the guests gushed over how delicious it was and requested your recipe.
I doubled the recipe without issues; I used cardamom pods (6) instead of powder.
It is incredibly, blissfully fragrant, flavorful, and has wonderful color and presentation.
I will be making it again!
Thank you very much Kristina, you just made me very happy!!! 🙂 🙂
Great idea regarding the pods, I'll edit the recipe accordingly!
This is a wonderful recipe!
Thank you!!! 🙂
Great Recipe! It’s my go to for a Moroccan lamb side. Lovely pictures and directions as well.
Thank you so much Megan! I am really happy you like this recipe, since this is also a favorite of mine!
Thank you for this recipe…it’s currently my go to recipe for wowing guests
I'm so pleased to hear that Fredah, thank you!
I cannot afford saffron, would turmeric be an acceptable substitute? Or would you recommend something else?
Yes, if you like the taste go for it, otherwise just omit the saffron and don't add anything else
I once made a fantastic recipe for Moroccan stuffed onions and then lost the recipe and I’ve never been able to find it. It had a wonderful fragrant gravy and I’ve been looking for ages for a similar recipe but never had any luck. This recipe seems perfect! I’m going to use it to stuff some big Spanish onions and I’ll add a touch more stock to get the lovely gravy that oozes out of the onions as they roast. Can’t wait to try it now!
Sounds good to me!!! Bon appetit 🙂