Spice-flavoured rice dishes are called pulaos in South Asian cooking. They are also known as pilafs.

Makes 8 servings
Cooking time: N/A


  • 1 cup (250 mL) Indian or Pakistani white basmati rice
  • 1 medium-size (about 2 lb./1 kg) acorn squash
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) canola oil
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies (like chile de arbol), stems discarded
  • 1 small red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) Madras-style curry powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) coarse kosher or sea salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) thinly sliced whole green onions


  1. Rinse rice three or four times, until water remains relatively clear; drain. Cover rice with cold water and let it sit until kernels soften, 20 to 30 minutes; drain.
  2. While rice soaks, prepare squash by cutting it in half. Scoop out and discard seeds. Peel tough skin. Cut into ½-inch cubes (1 cm). You should have about 6 cups (1.5 L) cut-up cubes.
  3. In a medium-size saucepan or Dutch oven, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in cumin and red chiles. Once seeds sizzle and look reddish-brown and chiles blacken, 10 to 15 seconds, add squash and onion, and stir-fry until they are light brown around the edges, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in curry powder and salt. The heat from the ingredients in the pan will allow the ground spices to cook without burning. Immediately add drained rice, and coat grains by tossing them together gently. Pour in 3 cups cold water (750 mL). Stir. Allow to boil, until it has evaporated from surface and craters are starting to appear in rice, 7 to 8 minutes. Now (and not until now) stir once to bring partially cooked layer from bottom of pan to surface. Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to lowest possible setting. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes on low. Then turn off heat and let stand on that burner, undisturbed, for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Uncover pan, remove chilies, sprinkle in green onions, fluff rice and serve.


Serving size
½ cup (125 mL)

Recipe courtesy of canolainfo.org, featured in the Canadian Diabetes Association’s 2016 Healthy Living Calendar. To download the latest recipes, visit http://www.diabetes.ca/calendar.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving
Calories 180
Total Fat 6 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrates 32 g
Fibre 3 g
Protein 3 g
Sodium 250 mg
“Your blood sugar levels can rise with large amounts of carbohydrate-rich rice. To help control the amount you are eating at a meal, use the plate method and combine your rice with tasty spices like cumin and the acorn squash in this recipe.” – Karen Omichinski, registered dietitian, Beausejour, Man.

Donate to diabetes research today!

Keep diabetes research moving forward

Your donation will ensure research never stops – help End Diabetes Now.