This recipe originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.

For our November 2018 “Feast Around the World” feature, we asked five of the state’s top chefs to create festive meals to serve this season. What we got was a cornucopia of global flavors. 

Not long after chef Kiran Verma opened her first upscale Indian restaurant in Houston, she started what would become a local tradition for many customers by offering her own version of a traditional Thanksgiving spread. It’s a tradition that moved with her when she opened Kiran’s, in 2004. Below is the side dish for Verma’s “Tandoori and Beyond” feast.

Basmati Rice Pulao With Apricots and Toasted Cashews

Fruits and nuts add seasonal crunch to the grain side dish in chef Kiran Verma’s “Tandoori and Beyond” feast.
Servings 6 people



  • 6 whole green cardamom pods
  • 6 whole black cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups basmati rice (rinsed and soaked for 1 hour)
  • 1 cup light cream
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
  • Apricots and cashews (recipe follows)

Apricots and Cashews

  • 1 cup dried apricots (quartered)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup cashews (toasted)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds (toasted)



  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  • In a large stockpot, add spices, lemon juice, salt, and oil to a gallon of water and cook at a low boil for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove spices with a strainer.
  • Add the soaked rice to the liquid and cook for another 5 minutes. Drain off water and set rice aside.
  • In a small saucepan, bring cream and saffron to a low boil, add butter, and stir until melted. Pour mixture over the rice.
  • Cover and put in oven for 5 minutes to allow butter and seasonings to be absorbed. Carefully fold in Apricots and Cashews and serve immediately.

Apricots and Cashews

  • Toss together and set aside until ready to mix with rice.