Smoked Mackerel Pilaf – Ainsley Harriott (Muslim Aid)

Celebrity chefs Madhur Jaffrey, Ainsley Harriott and Saliha Mahmood Ahmed are supporting charity Muslim Aid’s Ramadan campaign this year by each contributing a delicious and healthy recipe.

Here’s the first from Ainsley Harriott: Smoked Mackerel Pilaf With Onion Raita And Minty Yoghurt Dressing.

“I’m sharing my Smoked mackerel pilaff recipe and sending good wishes to everyone celebrating Ramadan. I think it’s an ideal Suroor (Ramadan breakfast) dish as it’s great for energy levels and will help people stay healthy and get through the day as they fast this month,” he said.

These recipes have been shared to help keep you healthy and maintain your energy levels during these long days of fasting.

Muslim Aid is one of the top 20 UK relief and development agencies providing humanitarian assistance to disaster affected countries and helping poor communities overcome poverty since 1985.

To donate your Zakat or for further information visit


  • 250g (9oz) brown basmati rice
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tsp root ginger
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 450ml (3/4 pint) vegetable stock
  • 250g (9oz) smoked mackerel,* flaked
  • 75g (3oz) peas
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

For the onion raita:

  • 1 red onion
  • lime juice, to taste
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt

For the minty yoghurt dressing:

  • 1 tbsp fresh mint
  • 100g (4oz) low-fat natural yoghurt

Serves 4.

Original recipe taken from “Ainsley Harriott 100 Meals in Minutes” published by BBC Books.

*I prefer to use plain smoked mackerel as the peppered variety is overly peppery. You could use white rice, but brown rice has a much better flavour and is a good source of fibre. Instead of the raita and dressing you could top each portion with a poached egg and a twist of pepper.


  1. Soak the rice in cold water for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the raita and the dressing. For the raita, thinly slice the red onion, place it in a small bowl, add the lime juice and cayenne and mix together. Season with salt, cover and set aside. For the dressing, finely chop the fresh mint and mix together with the yoghurt, then cover and chill.
  2. Prepare the ingredients for the pilaf. Rinse and drain the rice in a sieve. Crush the garlic clove, grate the ginger and lightly crush the cardamom pods.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly coloured. Add the garlic, ginger and spices. Cook for 1 minute, then stir in the rice. Add the bay leaf and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 20 minutes.
  4. Fork the flacked mackerel into the rice, along with the peas, cover and turn the heat off. Leave the pilaf for about 5-10minutes so that the rice is dried out and really tender, and the mackerel has heated through. Scatter with coriander and serve with the raita, dressing and some mango chutney.

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