food 4 tots

Orange pilaf

orange, pilaf, rice


Source: Adapted and modified from The Young Families (a bi-monthly school magazine)

Serve: 7-8

300g Basmathi rice or any long grain rice (washed, rinsed, soaked for ½ hour and drained)
150g chicken fillet/ breast (sliced)
70g black and golden raisins – refer note (1)
70g frozen green peas – refer note (2)
Julienned/ grated orange zest (1 medium size orange – only the orange part) – refer note (3)
100g/ 1 large red onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
4 cloves
5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick (break into 4 pieces)

orange pilaf, ingredients

Seasonings A (for chicken):
1½ tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp cooking wine (optional)
Dash of pepper
1 tsp cornflour

Seasonings B (for pilaf):
Orange juice (from 1 medium size orange) plus extra water to make up to 2½ or 2⅓ cups liquid mixture
½ tsp tumeric powder
1-1½ tsp salt
Dash of pepper

For garnishing
Handful of toasted almond flakes (optional)


  1. Mix chicken slice with seasonings A in a small bowl. Cover with cling wrap and marinate in the fridge for half an hour.
  2. Heat some oil in the pan, sauté chicken until it turned slightly pale. Set aside.
  3. Heat some oil in the pan, and sauté onions, garlic, clove, cardarmon, cinnamon until onions turn translucent.
  4. Add rice and tumeric powder, and toss until the rice is fully coated. Add in chicken (in step 2), orange zest, salt and pepper, and toss again.
  5. Pour item (4) into rice cookert. Add in orange juice mixture and cook until the rice is done.
  6. When the rice is cooked, add raisins. Replace the lid, allowing the raisins to plump up in the steam. Rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  7. During serving, add in green peas and toss to mix well. Garnished with toasted sliced almonds.


  1. Raisins – put them in a plastic bag, pour water inside the bag and immediately pour it out. Leave the raisins inside the bag for 1-2 hours. This step is quite similar to how I condition my raisins for baking except that the time is shorter. I personally find that it helps to prevent the raisins from absorbing the moisture from the rice. This step is optional.
  2. Frozen green peas – thaw and blanch over boiling water for about 1 minute or until they are cooked. Immediately remove from the boiling water and plunge into an ice bath (a bowl full of ice and water). Immense the green peas in the ice bath until they are cool completely, then drain. This method is called “shocking” which will halt its cooking process completely and maintain the green hue of the green peas.  Click on this link for further illustration. You can use this method for other vegetables as well. If you want to skip this step, add green peas into the rice 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  3. Julienned orange zest – First, wash and scrub the fruit. Rinse and dry with a paper towel. You can use lemon zester or lemon grater for zesting the orange rind. I used a vegetable peeler. Carefully peel off a strip of the orange rind working from top to bottom. Only topmost layers (yellow part) are needed as the white part will give a bitter taste to the dish. Take one strip (or a few), flatten it on the cutting board. Slice (julienne) the peel into very thin strip as per photo in page 1.
  4. If you cook the rice using pot, follow step (1) – (4), then put all the ingredients into the pot, add in orange juice mixture. Cook under medium high heat and bring it to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Cook for another 15 minutes. Then follow by step (6) and (7).
  5. The ratio for rice and water for cooking long grain rice is 1 cup rice: 1¼ cup water. But since the rice is soaked and has absorbed some of the water, I’m going with 2:2⅓. Best to follow the ratio stated in your rice packaging.

orange pilaf, step by step

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  1. evelyn says:

    I always wonder how does pilaf taste like. Is it something similiar to what is served at Fish & Co? Yours looks so tempting and yummy. I like the colours of this dish.

    • food-4tots says:

      Evelyn: So sorry, I haven’t tried the food at Fish & Co. Hehehe! Maybe they serve paella not pilaf. Just my wild guess! Thanks for your compliment! 😉

  2. Ellena says:

    This is so beautiful. I love orangy taste. I would like to try this over the coming weekend. thanks for sharing…. 🙂

  3. Your pilaf looks so tempting!

  4. juhuacha says:

    Where can I buy cardamom pods? Can I omit it? Is it possible to use only orange juice and omit the zest? I am a lazy person…. Thanks for the recipe.

    • food-4tots says:

      Juhuacha: You can find it in the Indian grocery stall, supermarket (dried food/ herbs), wet market (Indian stalls) and Chinese medicine shop (sometimes). Usually all these Indian spices ie cardamom, clove, cinnamon, tumeric powder etc are sold at the same place. You can omit the zest if you don’t mind to let go of the orange scent which is very aromatic. Maybe you can make julienned orange zest for half of the orange instead of one. Let me know how it turns out. Happy trying! 😉

  5. Joanne says:

    I’m super picky about oranges as well. I like them, but on my terms. This pilaf looks fantastic though! I love the varied flavors and ingredients in it.

  6. noobcook says:

    at first I thought it is briyani rice with that bright orange hue … love the interesting orange flavour and I’m sure I will like it. Serve 7-8 ar … I think you must change to serve 4 if serving me, I’ll go for many helpings 😉

  7. Alice says:

    Wow! What a healthy and hearty one pot dish! I heart this recipe as it is full of orange fragrant… can’t wait to let Sean try it. He loves orange! 😀

  8. Little Inbox says:

    Try Navel orange, it’s always sweet.

    • food-4tots says:

      Little Inbox: Thanks for the suggestion. I still don’t have the skill in picking those sweet oranges. 😉

      • Ling says:

        As far as good eating oranges go, most people agree that the variety called Navel (it has a small circular growth at one end which resembles the human’s belly button) has the best meat.

        Now, from my experiences of buying oranges at NTUC. Only certain Navel oranges are usually sweet. I steer clear from China Navels becos’ I find their oranges have an artificial orange colour…I mean they looked too orange! Just my paranoia. South African ones tend to be sourish. Go for Sunkist 3107 (or a 4_ _ _ something) and Citrus brand from Australia. These are almost always sweet and yummy. 🙂

        • food-4tots says:

          Ling: I totally agreed. Both Navel and Sunkist from China are definitely out of my shopping list. For Sunkist, I will go for 4013 but most of the time I will seek my seller (in the wet market) for recommendation. I hardly buy from supermarket because I’m not good at picking the right variety.

          • Ling says:

            Ah yes, it’s Sunkist 4013!

            Ya, besides going by the brand and number code, it is difficult to tell whether an orange is sweet unless one eats it. Trial and error – the way to go for me if there are no recommendations to be had. Good thing you have your trusty fruit seller to get your supply of good fruits! Sometimes I rely on my MIL to buy honey mangoes and oranges for us from her trusty fruit seller in Ang Mo Kio. 😀

  9. LCOM says:

    I love the colors and everything else.

  10. Meldylocks says:

    Wow, I don’t have to taste this to know that it is GOOD!

  11. sweetlife says:

    great orange flavor , we love citrus infused meals..yummy


  12. The colour of this dish is very vibrant and tempting. I’d like to try basmathi rice. It seems to be very good to have a try after your description.

  13. wow this is such an attraction rice, definitely my kids will love this! 😉

  14. Sidney Kan says:

    this looks gorgeous, even the adult like myself would love have a plate of this rice!

  15. tigerfish says:

    Love the addition of orange zest in there. I can try that 🙂 Thanks for the idea…cos I love yellow rice too and not a big fan of oranges…

    • food-4tots says:

      Tigerfish: Oh yeah, you’re the right candidate to try this recipe. Hope you will like it and will love eating oranges in future like us. LOL! 😉

  16. LK: Such a gorgeous dish! And a great idea. I love it. I think maybe I’ll try this when I next host. And I think it’s hilarious that you found a middle eastern pilaf recipe in your son’s school magazine!!??

    • food-4tots says:

      Clare: Thanks! Thanks! Hope you will like it. Actually it is a bi-monthly issue family magazine which includes some kid-friendly recipes. Hahaha! Sorry for the confusion. 😉

  17. I really like pilafs, and I love how you’ve made this one into a whole meal! The orange flavor in it sounds great too.

  18. Jason Wong says:

    Good to start children young to learn to enjoy and appreciate flavours and textures of food.

  19. Dora says:

    Hey! This is something really very different. Cool. I want to try!

  20. I love your orange pilaf….especially with the addition of cinnamon & cardamom The zest also adds a really nice touch. Glad to hear you guys have found a way to enjoy oranges! xo

  21. jo says:

    This pilaf looks awfully good and I totally love the colours of the entire rice dish.

  22. Melanie says:

    This looks so yummylicious. Will try out myself. Keep it up.

  23. cariso says:

    It looks colourful enough to attract kids. 🙂

  24. Melanie says:

    This is really a great recipe. I cooked it this evening for dinner and turned out to be very yummy. My husband, children, mom-in-law and my guests love it. I added fish cake. Instead of just green peas, i added mixed vege, it turned out to be so colourful and tempting for everyone. Thanks for sharing.

    • food-4tots says:

      Melanie: Wow!! You’re such a creative cook!! With all those extra ingredients you added, I’m sure it must be very very colourful and tasty. Thanks so much for your kind feedback and glad that everyone in your family (included your guests) enjoyed this one dish meal. 😉

  25. Carolyn Jung says:

    Bet this is just lovely with all that orange goodness and warm cinnamon notes. Me thinks this might be perfect with the lamb leg I’m cooking this weekend, too.

  26. Evelyn Ng says:

    Hi, I juz cooked this orange pilaf rice and half all the portion of your ingredients. I didn’t jullienned the orange but only put the orange zest. I added mixed veg instead of green peas. And it is colourful indeed. However, it is quite blend with a slight hint of orange and the sweetness of the raisin (I didn’t put a lot because my hubby doesn’t like sweet food) Do you eat it with other dishes?

    • food-4tots says:

      Evelyn Ng: Thanks for sharing your feedback. I usually treat it as a one dish meal. Instead of adding other dishes, I prefer to serve it with some homemade soup. But it’s up to individual preference. Maybe you can add some sambal belacan or XO sauce to suit your hubby’s palate. Hope it helps. 😉

  27. Ling says:

    I have been waiting for an opportunity to try this dish! It shall be tonight if all the ingredients could be got. Am thinking of pairing this rice dish with your creamy butter prawns. Will give you feedback if it happens tonight 🙂

    • food-4tots says:

      Ling: What a great pairing!! Sometimes, we added some LKK XO sauce to our portions for extra flavour. It also tastes great with sambal belacan (for adults only!) 😉

      • Ling says:

        Ya, I thought this Indian rice dish would go well with curry flavoured prawns 🙂

        THanks for the LKK XO sauce idea. Did you eat the rice with helpings of the sauce or was it added to the rice before cooking?

        I’m going to do grocery shopping later! Hee hee 🙂

        • food-4tots says:

          Ling: I haven’t tried it with curry flavoured prawns before. But you made me hungry thinking about it now. The XO sauce is just added during serving. Enjoy your grocery shopping! 😉

  28. Ling says:

    Hi Lai Kuan,

    I did both the orange pilaf and creamy butter prawns last night! 😀 The more I cook the easier going it is to try new recipes. 🙂

    The creamy butter prawns is still very good after my 3rd attempt now. Love the flavour of curry leaves – like you I added lots of them. Hee hee.

    The pilaf was indeed quite plain as commented by another person (no offence intended). Pity I couldn’t find that XO sauce yesterday at Sheng Siong. So we used the butter sauce from the other dish to ‘add flavour’ to the rice dish. And I should have picked out the cloves and cardamom pods as the husband felt quite miserable after biting into them – ha ha 😀

    • Ling says:

      And thanks for sharing this Indian concoction. It was my first time cooking spice-infused rice this way. I always wanted to try but feel quite intimidated by the unfamiliar spices. I had fun 😀

    • food-4tots says:

      Ling: I haven’t cooked the creamy butter prawns for quite some time as there are too many new recipes I am trying out everyday. Hehe! Maybe it’s time for me to do a revisit of this dish. 😉 Thanks for your sincere feedback on the orange pilaf. I really appreciate that. Sometimes I also added some lentil and vegetable curry (as shared in my blog) to go with it. Sorry that I have forgotten to remind you about picking up the cloves and cardamon pods. I also encountered the same story with my picky hubby. Btw, did you add any nuts ie roasted almonds flakes, roasted cashew nuts or roasted pine nuts as it will provide some crunchiness to the dish. 😉

  29. Ling says:

    Hi Lai Kuan,

    No worries about my hubby – I knew i should pick up those spices but alas I was in such a hurry. 🙂

    Yes, I added the toasted almond slices to the rice. Hubby started by picking them up to munch and my girl ‘monkey-see-monkey-do’. 😀

    I’ve tried a very soft and fragrant Indian rice a colleague of mine has made and it was so totally suitable for babies/toddler. I had asked her for the recipe but she was so busy then and now she has resigned! Pity. May be I should try to get in touch with her again 🙂

    • food-4tots says:

      Ling: If your hubby loves toasted nuts, maybe you can consider roasting some for him as snack. My family loves to snack on roasted nuts (plain but healthy). As for your little gal, please take note of the allergy issues on nuts for toddlers.

      If you can get hold of the recipe, please share with me. 😉 My Indian vegetarian ( was inspired by my Indian friend. You can give it a try. I like to add some orange juices and orange zest when cooking it. 😉

  30. Ling says:

    BTW too, I really appreciate your efforts in sharing good and healthy recipes as there aren’t many such blogs in our region. I know blogging takes up much time and what’s more with posting great photos, background info and nutritional value of ingredients.

    I think I can safely say that there’s such thing as free lunch in this world 🙂 Thanks to you. 🙂

  31. food-4tots says:

    Yvonne: Pilaf + Chicken Tikka Masala is a perfect combo! Great idea!! Yes, you can omit the chicken. Just cut down a little bit of the water will do. Happy trying! 😉

  32. Pandora says:


    Just wondering if this is suitable for freezing?

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