Wild mushroom pilau

There are over 100 edible types of mushroom, from delicate chanterelles to fat meaty ceps, floaty oyster mushrooms to flavour-packed morels. I make the most of them by throwing them into a delicately spiced pilau, which is perfect to eat all by itself.

(This recipe was originally published in Made in India – you can buy the book here)


  • 300g basmati rice
  • 250g wild mushrooms, such as ceps, chanterelles, girolles, oysters, trompette de la mort (or 80g wild dried mushrooms, such as porcini)
  • 275g cup mushrooms
  • 5 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • optional: 1 bay leaf
  • 4cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 600ml hot vegetable stock
  • 25g fresh dill
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Rinse the rice in at least 3 changes of water, until the water runs clear, and leave to soak in a bowl of cold water. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel and cut into 0.5cm slices.

Put 1 tablespoon of oil and 10g of butter into a large, lidded frying pan on a high heat. When the pan is hot and the butter starts to foam, add a third of the mushrooms. If you overcrowd them, they’ll steam rather than brown. Leave them to cook for a minute without stirring them, then turn them over. When they’re nicely coloured, season and tip them on to a plate. Use the same amount of oil and butter per batch. Set aside.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil into the same pan on a medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaf (if using) and cinnamon stick. Stir for a minute, then add the onions. Cook for around 15 minutes, or until they are soft and have caramelized.

Next add the garlic, black pepper, garam masala, chilli powder and 11⁄2 teaspoons of salt and stir well. Drain the rice, add it to the pan and gently stir. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then cover the pan and turn the heat down to its lowest setting. If you’re using dried mushrooms, rather than fresh, add them now.

Cook the rice for 20 minutes, or until tender, then add the mushrooms, folding them in gently so as not to break the rice up, and put the lid back on for a final 10 minutes.

Tear up the dill leaves roughly and scatter over the dish. Serve with the lemon wedges to squeeze over, which will brighten all the spices.