Spicy vegetable pilau with cucumber raita

Spicy vegetable pilau with cucumber raita

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(10 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 20 mins


Serves 2

Replace rice with freekeh for a deliciously different, low-calorie one-pot with red pepper and sweet sultanas

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal471
  • fat20g
  • saturates4g
  • carbs53g
  • sugars27g
  • fibre7g
  • protein17g
  • salt0.2g
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    For the pilau

    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
      Rapeseed oil

      Rapeseed oil

      If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has…

    • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced



      Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

    • thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped



      Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • ½ tsp cumin seeds
    • seeds from 8 cardamom pods
    • 1 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and sliced
    • 1 large red pepper, deseeded and diced
    • 50g freekeh



      Freekeh is a green grain made from young durum wheat which is roasted or smoked then polished to…

    • 350ml vegetable stock (made with 2 tsp reduced-salt bouillon powder)
    • 25g sultanas
    • ½ pack coriander, chopped
    • 40g cashew nuts

    For the raita

    • 1 garlic clove
    • 150ml pot bio-yogurt
    • ¼ cucumber, grated
    • 2 tbsp chopped mint



      There are several types of mint, each with its own subtle difference in flavour and appearance.…


    1. Chop the garlic for the pilau and set aside. Finely grate the garlic for the raita and put in a bowl. Heat the oil for the pilau in a large open pan, and fry the onion and ginger for 5 mins until softened. Stir in the whole and ground spices, and cook for a few secs to release their aromas. Add the chilli, red pepper and freekeh, stir briefly, then tip in the stock and sultanas. Simmer for 15 mins until the freekeh is tender but still nutty, adding the chopped garlic for the final 2 mins. The stock should have reduced and absorbed into the freekeh now.

    2. Meanwhile, finish the raita by stirring the yogurt, cucumber and mint into the grated garlic.

    3. When the pilau is cooked, stir in the coriander and cashews, and serve with the raita.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    25th Jan, 2016
    Are these quantities right? I followed the recipe exactly except for doubling the quantities to serve 4. I cooked the Freekeh for 30 minutes and it was still pretty wet and the portions were tiny - I ended up having to cook something else and served this as a side. It tastes good though. The Freekeh packet says to allow 50g per person rather than 50g for two.
    13th Aug, 2015
    Loved it! Used pre-cooked Freekeh that said to boil it in the bag so did that and then added it to the rest of the mix for a few minutes over the heat. Left the chilli seeds in which gave it an extra kick. Next time though I would not use as many cardamom pod seeds in it as they were very overpowering. Added some prawns as well because I had some in the fridge that needed eating and they worked well in it.
    4th Jul, 2015
    Lovely flavour and textures. I included the seeds with the chilli, which made it nicely spicy. I could only buy a mixture of freekeh and quinoa from Waitrose – it worked well and cooked perfectly in the stated time but I'll look for unadulterated freekeh in our health food shop. The portions seemed a bit on the small side without accompaniment. Next time I might add broccoli florets to increase the veg content and naan to satisfy a hungry teenager.
    20th Jun, 2015
    Never heard of freekeh before so surprised that my local Tesco had several varieties to choose from. Delicious although very spicy (too hot for some members of the family) but the raita cooled it down nicely. I followed the recipe exactly and it cooked to perfection. Had half for my tea and the rest cold for lunch the next day. Will definitely be cooking this again.
    16th Jun, 2015
    This was a bit faffy to prepare but it was delicious! Went down very well with the boyfriend, especially as I left the chilli seeds in because we like spicy food. My only comment (which is why 4 stars have been given) is that the freekah was not cooked after 15 minutes and I think maybe another 5 minutes with another 50ml of stock would cook it perfectly. Also, be prepared to taste garlic for a long time after this one!
    13th Jun, 2015
    Also used ready cooked freekeh and realised halfway through that i should have reduced the liquid. My first venture with freekeh; don't know if it's possible to find the uncooked version. Delicious, even without raita - sliced cucumbers probably a poor substitute but I am dairy intolerant and didn't have any yoghurt. anyway.
    13th Jun, 2015
    Very nice recipe, I added ready-cooked Freekah (all I could find) about 5 minutes before the end and reduced the stock volume to 150ml. Certainly spicy but well-balanced by the raita. The meat-lover in the household was heard to say that it would be a nice side with some tikka chicken!
    Bovinefreedomfighter's picture
    9th Jun, 2015
    Just the right amount of spiciness and a lovely sweet hit from the sultanas. Will definitely be making this again. As a vegan, I couldn't have the raita, but don't think this distracted from the recipe.
    8th Jun, 2015
    I really like this recipe and suprisingly my husband, 16 year old son and 14 year old daughter did too. Will definitely cook it again. Although, it took a lot longer than 20 minutes to prepare.....but worth it.
    8th Jun, 2015
    I couldn't find freekeh so used barley instead which increased the cooking time. I was very pleasantly surprised by this recipe, I loved the combination of flavours, the sultanas added a nice bit of sweetness against the spicy chilli. I'll definitely make this again.
    novices's picture
    5th Jun, 2015
    What is freekeh?
    Bovinefreedomfighter's picture
    9th Jun, 2015
    Freekeh is a cereal made from green wheat that is roasted.
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