This easy Caribbean curried rice pilaf is brightened up with fresh citrus flavor from orange juice. Serve it with your favorite grilled or roasted meats.
(This recipe was originally published in July 2012, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
When I’m missing the Caribbean islands, the closest I can get is cooking regional recipes. I allow the flavors to transport be back to paradise.
Perhaps the most popular rice preparation on various Caribbean islands is rice and peas (or rice and beans). Although I enjoy this variation very much, I particularly love this Caribbean spin on rice pilaf which includes melted onions, curry powder, and orange juice.
This recipe is adapted from The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook, which is the official cookbook from the Sugar Mill Restaurant at its namesake resort on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The restaurant is well-known for its amazing cuisine.
This Caribbean curried rice pilaf is extremely simple to make, but will be the highlight of your dinner menu! Incorporating orange juice into a rice dish, may seem rather unusual, but it’s delicious. The citrus flavor isn’t strong, but it really just adds a bit of brightness to the dish.
The spice isles influence of curry powder (along with its yellow color), and some nicely softened sweet onion flavor round out this easy and flavorful recipe.
The ingredient list for this recipe is quite short, but I want to address a couple of items that could raise questions.
What type of rice should you use? Use whatever type you normally like to eat! I typically make this recipe with basmati rice, because that’s our go-to rice for most preparations. It should work well with any variety of long-grain rice. I haven’t tried it with medium-grain so I cannot comment on the results.
What type of curry powder should you use? Curry powder is actually a blend of spices. The exact recipe for each blend varies depending on many factors. An Indian curry powder will differ from a Jamaican curry powder, and so on and so forth.
For example, Jamaican curry powder is usually a bit more mild than its Indian counterpart, and often contains more turmeric.
Ideally, use a Caribbean curry powder for this recipe if you have one. But if you only have one type of curry powder in your pantry, it should work just fine.
How to make it
Begin by melting butter in a pot, and then add thinly sliced onion. Cook on medium heat until the onion is translucent (STEP 1).
Next add your rice and curry powder (STEP 2). Stir to combine, cooking for about 2 minutes until very fragrant (STEP 3).
Add the chicken broth, orange juice, salt, and bay leaf (STEP 4). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and cover (STEP 5). Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is tender (STEP 6). Remove the bay leaf before serving.
What to serve with your curried rice
Even though this is a Caribbean curried rice, you can definitely serve this rice with almost anything! It has a nicely balanced flavor with just a hint of spice, and a delicate sweetness.
- Jerk Chicken Wings
- Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast with Yogurt and Asian Spices
- Hoisin Baby Back Ribs
- Smoked Spatchcock Chicken
- Brined Pork Tenderloin
Other Caribbean recipes you may like
- Jamaican Beef Patties
- Jerk Chicken Pasta
- Curried Tomato Salad
- Guava Bars
- Guava and Cheese Pastries
- Painkiller Cocktail
Have you ever made rice pilaf with unique global flavors like this before? It’s such an easy way to take your rice to another level but adding spices and swapping out some of the water or broth for juice. If you try this recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave me a comment below. Thanks!
Caribbean Curried Rice Pilaf with Citrus
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 cup rice such as basmati
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or more as needed
- 1 bay leaf
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and saute the onion until it is translucent.
- Stir in the curry powder and rice. Cook the mixture 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the saucepan.
- Simmer the rice for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Notes & Nutrition
- To make this rice vegetarian, you may replace the chicken broth with water or vegetable broth/stock.
- Use a Caribbean style curry powder if you can, but any curry powder (such as an Indian one) will work fine.
- This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.