This Instant Pot pilaf is made with ground lamb and Basmati rice and flavoured with Persin-style spices, figs and almonds. It’s a delicious, family-friendly recipe that will surprise and delight.
This Persian-style Instant Pot rice pilaf is made with ground lamb, dried figs, almonds and a beautiful blend of warm spices. If you’re not familiar with pilaf, it’s a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth, and depending on cuisine, you can often find a variety of vegetables, meat or seafood mixed in. It’s a great one-pot dish.
Unlike risotto or fried rice, pilaf requires little attention as once all ingredients and liquids are mixed through, the rice is left to do its own thing without stirring, absorbing the broth while cooking. This dish lends itself perfectly to Instant Pot, which is amazing for cooking most rice dishes. It makes the best risotto and the fluffiest, tastiest yellow rice.
HELPFUL HINTS FOR MAKING LAMB RICE PILAF
Rice: We love using Basmati rice for this dish but any long-grain white rice will do. The key to fluffy, perfectly textured pilaf is to soak and rinse the rice before cooking. This removes surface starch from the rice, which prevents it from becoming sticky, stodgy, and clumpy once cooked. Simply soak the rice in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinse 4-5 times with cold water and a sieve.
Lamb: Lamb is often used in Middle Eastern cuisine, so we opted for budget-friendly ground lamb for this Instant Pot recipe. Beef, turkey, pork or chicken can be used instead and you can either dice the meat into small cubes or use mince.
Spices: The spices we use in this recipe are easy to find in most supermarkets and online. They are commonly used in many dishes, so if you don’t have them, they are worth investing in. Alternatively, you can get a pre-mixed Moroccan or Ras El Hanout blend. You can find the spices we used on Amazon: ground cumin, ground cinnamon, Allspice, ground coriander seed, turmeric powder. Allspice can be omitted, as we only used a little bit.
Dried fruit and nuts: Pilaf is versatile and forgiving, so you can use whatever dried fruit and nuts you have on hand. Dried apricots, cranberries, sultanas or dates can be chopped up and thrown in. Pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts or cashews can all be used instead of almonds. And of course, for a nut-free version, simply omit them altogether.
We served this rice pilaf with a side of cucumber and yoghurt salad, lemon wedges (make sure to drizzle some juice over the top) and some hot sauce for an extra kick. Enjoy!
MORE Instant Pot RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE
- Kale & Quinoa Pilaf With Feta & Toasted Almonds
- Rice Pilaf With Chickpeas
- Rice & Ground Beef Burritos
- Spanish Rice With Chorizo
- Leg of Lamb Stew With Dates & Cinnamon
Instant Pot Rice Pilaf With Ground Lamb & Figs
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 35 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Persian
- Diet: Gluten Free
This Persian-style Instant Pot rice pilaf is made with ground lamb, dried figs, almonds and a beautiful blend of warm spices. It’s gluten-free and family-friendly dish.
See Notes on the updates to the recipe we’ve made based on some BURN error feedback!
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- About 1 lb or 400-450 g of ground lamb (lamb mince)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Allspice
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional but adds a lovely yellow hue to the rice)
- 3 large cloves of garlic, finely diced
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 stick celery, diced
- 1 medium to large carrot, diced
- 5 dried figs, diced
- 2 tablespoons almond flakes (can be omitted for a nut-free version)
- 1.5 cups rice (well rinsed, see notes above)
- 1+ 2/3 cups vegetable stock (we used vegetable stock cube dissolved in water)
- 1/2 cup tinned chopped tomatoes
- Zest of the remaining 1/2 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon almond flakes
- 7–8 mint leaves, finely sliced
- Greek yoghurt or sour cream, to serve
- Soak the rice in a bowl or pot with cold water for 5-10 minutes, then rinse 4-5 times.
- Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté function key. It should initially say 30 minutes on the display screen, you don’t need to do anything to the timer. Let the pot heat up while you dice up the onion.
- Add onion, olive oil, and a teaspoon of salt to the pot and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until softened.
- Add the ground lamb and stir through, breaking the meat apart with a spatula. Cook the lamb with onions for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. At first, the lamb meat will release a lot of juices but as you keep stirring and cooking it, the liquid will evaporate and the meat will star to brown. Once that happens, that’s when we add other ingredients.
- Once the lamb has browned off slightly, add another half a teaspoon of salt, spices, garlic and lemon zest and stir for 10-15 seconds, allowing the aromas to be released over the heat. Press Keep Warm/Cancel to stop the Sauté process. Please note, there was a timing typo in this part of the recipe before which caused some people to experience a Burn notice, and it has since been fixed so should work fine.
- Add the celery, carrots, figs, almonds and rice and mix through. Add the 1 + 2/3 cups of stock and stir really well to make sure all ingredients are well combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is stuck. Also, scrape down any rice kernels or vegetables stuck to the sides of the pot. Finally, add the tinned tomatoes on top and spread over, do not mix. This will help to prevent the Burn notice as well.
- Place and lock the lid, making sure the steam releasing handle is pointing to Sealing. Press Manual, High pressure and set to 4 minutes. After 3 beeps the pressure cooker will start going. It will take a few minutes for the pressure to build up and then the actual cooking will begin. Once the timer goes off, allow 2 minutes for the pressure to release naturally and then use the quick release method to let off the steam. Open the lid when it is safe to do so.
- Finish the pilaf with extra lemon zest, almond flakes and mint sprinkled over the top. Serve with lemon wedges.
Update to the recipe: We increased the vegetable stock amount based on the feedback that some people were getting a BURN error. This really depends on the Model you have as some of them are much more sensitive than others. A little more liquid might help, and make sure to really stir it through the mix and scrape off any stuck of pre-sauteed food from the bottom of the pot. We’ve also changed the instruction for adding tinned tomatoes. Spread them on top of the rice and don’t mix through, this might help to prevent the burn notice.
- Serving Size: 1.5 cups
- Calories: 720
- Sugar: 18.2 g
- Sodium: 1220.2 mg
- Fat: 31 g
- Saturated Fat: 11.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 86.6 g
- Fiber: 6.3 g
- Protein: 24.8 g
- Cholesterol: 73 mg
Keywords: Middle Eastern, Rice, Ground Lamb
SAVE THIS RICE PILAF RECIPE TO PINTEREST
Will this work with cauliflower rice?
You can definitely make this as a cauliflower rice dish but I would recommend cooking the lamb separately and then mixing in the cauliflower rice after and cooking it briefly on Saute function. You gave me an idea for a new recipe though!
I’m really bummed about this recipe. I love the flavors, but my instant pot will not pressurize. I’ve tried it twice now, and both times a crust formed on the bottom of the pot, before the pot pressurized. I followed the directions exactly and ensured there was no brown bits on the bottom from the lamb & onions. It seems like mixing the rice in and allowing it to be in contact with the bottom of the pot is the issue.
Hi Katarine, the rice shouldn’t be an issue as there are so many IP recipes with rice. Did you check your sealing ring? Oftentimes (after say washing the lid), my IP won’t pressurize if the ring isn’t sealed properly.
Fantasic recipe! Everyone liked it a lot and I loved it. I will definitely make it again.
We’ve made this recipe several times, even before the updates intended to prevent burning with no problems. It’s been delicious every time! It feels very nourishing and the spices are perfect. What was the amount of broth added before it was updated? I’m worried that it could turn out a bit mushy for us with extra liquid this go around. Thanks!
First of all, thanks for your feedback. I think we added 1/4/ to 1/2 cup, depending on the volume of food (some people have a little more or less of something). It shouldn’t affect the texture too much, feel free to reduce by 1/4 cup than what is stated. You Instant Pot must not be as sensitive as others’ (similar to ours).
I have just finished making this fantastic recipe.
The flavours of this meal are spectacular and very easy to put together and 6 minutes cooking time.
Thank you for a really enjoyable meal.
Thanks, Julie. Glad you enjoyed this pilaf recipe and yes, it’s so fast and easy!
I agree with other reviewers, this recipe does not work as written. I got the burn notice just before the pot got up to pressure, and it was indeed burned on the bottom. I transferred it to a pot on the stove and added way more water. The flavors are delicious, but it definitely doesn’t have a pilaf effect.
this Recipe does not work as written. First of all, 10-15 minutes on Sauté is way too long after you add the spices. Second….I got burn notices twice on my big pot, switched to my mini and it still wasn’t coming to pressure as there is just not enough liquid. I finally moved it to the stove. I think you need to retest this as the flavors are quite good but the method sucked.
Hey Laura, I will check the recipe, there might be a mistake in the copy about the times.
I have a new Instant Pot Ultra and followed the instructions exactly. Unfortunately it began to burn (“BURN started to flash on the screen) just as it came up to pressure. I stopped it right away but was able to salvage most of this wonderful recipe. The only liquid called for is stock and tomatoes. Maybe I’ll add more liquid next time or cook on the stove top because I loved this dish. So flavorful. 5 stars for flavor. Just need to work out the IP quirks.
Glad you enjoyed the dish, even with the Burn notice. It seems to come for some people but not others, so it really depends on perhaps having a little more of a particular ingredient and so the liquid needs to be adjusted. Definitely try it again with a little more stock or water.
I too got the Burn notice on my instant pot the first time I made this. The second time I added the standard ratio of liquid to rice, rather than what the recipe calls for. In other words I added 2 and 2/3 cups liquid. The recipe came out perfectly, great flavors, no burning.
Hi Dianne, thanks for your lovely feedback. I wonder which size IP you use? Some people have experienced the burn notice with the 8-quart ones but not with the standard 6-quart IPs. Either way, good to know it worked better with a little more liquid.
I also have an IP Ultra (6qt), and ended up with the “BURN” warning, just before reaching full pressure. So very frustrating. I hit cancel, and transferred to a large skillet to finish on the stovetop. In the process of transferring, I added a full cup and a half of stock, more. Definitely needed that for the rice. Very yummy end result, regardless.
I’m sorry this happened to you. The burn notice occurs usually when the substance inside is too thick or not enough water. We have a whole article explaining what the Burn warning means so you don’t have to panic when it occurs.
What are “tinned tomatoes” in this use? We have a lot of options for canned tomatoes where I live. Diced, pureed, chunks, whole, whole peeled, in sauce, in juice. Do you want just the tomatoes, without liquid, or some liquid with the tomatoes? Since the amount of liquid makes or breaks an IP recipe, it would be helpful to be more specific.
This sounds awesome. I love everything in it – except the white rice. How would you adapt it to brown rice?
Brown rice needs quite a bit more time to cook, so it’s mostly the timing. 15 mins for brown rice, I believe.
Delicious! I used dates in place of figs and was short on a couple of the spices so I used some substitutes. Will make again, even my picky teens enjoyed it!
Joanie, so glad this was a hit for your family. The dates sound like a gorgeous addition to the dish.
I made this last week. I was so good that I am making again tonight!!!! I am on an Elimination Diet but I can eat everything in this. I think I
The leftovers are even better.
Tracie, that makes me so happy to hear. We try to develop recipes that cater to people’s individual needs which is why we do a lot of gluten-free cooking and plant-based recipe development. I’m so happy you can enjoy this even during an elimination period. The leftovers really allow for the flavours to meld! Yum!
Didn’t have fun so used apricots. This recipe is delicious! Leftovers are even better. Will be making this again.
Thank you for this recipe, I used it as a baseline and made pilaf twice – worked out well both times!
The flavours were very good but unfortunately I also had the burn error. There were no brown bits on the bottom when I turned it on either. After several unsuccesful attempts at adding more water, I ended up with a risotto like finish and a burnt crust at the bottom.
I might attempt this again by placing all veggies on the bottom and rice on top, without mixing as I believe it’s the rice that’s causing the issue
This was awesome! I ate beyond fullness it was too good!! Thank you for posting.
It’s definitely one of those “go back for more” dishes 😉 Glad you enjoyed it!