Kashmiri pulao, a simple vegetarian dish made with fragrant basmati rice, spices, onions, nuts, dry fruits and fresh fruits. Treat yourself to this saffron infused one pot meal that’s not only aromatic and delicious but also easy to make. This post shows you how to make a restaurant style fluffy Kashmiri pulao on stovetop and in Instant pot. This can be eaten on its own or with an Indian raita or tzatziki.
Kashmiri pulao makes for a great meal anytime of the day and can also be served in parties or family dinners. It is so colorful with amazing toppings of fried onions, crunchy nuts, raisins & seasonal fruits. Plus it’s kids friendly too!
About Kashmiri pulao
Kashmiri pulao is a traditional rice dish from the Kashmiri cuisine, where basmati rice is cooked with lots of spices and flavorsome broth. It is topped with ghee fried almonds, cashews and raisins.
There are many versions of making Kashmiri pulao and the most popular is the version served in restaurants. In this post I share this restaurant version.
Kashmiri cuisine is immensely popular for the aromatic foods. Rice being a popular grain grown in Kashmir from the ancient times, it is widely used to make numerous everyday dishes like biryani, pilafs and many more.
Saffron, the most expensive spice being locally grown in the region is also used in a lot of sweet and savory dishes.
So basmati rice and saffron are the star of a Kashmiri pilaf. A traditional Kashmiri pulao is made with a lamb broth in which a lot of spices and fried onions are simmered to extract the flavors. This flavorsome broth is used to cook the basmati rice and lastly it is tempered with ghee fried nuts & raisins.
Though Kashmiri cuisine is majorly non-vegetarian there are also a few vegetarian dishes which are mainly popular in the restaurants. This Kashmiri pulao is what the Indian restaurant chefs have arrived at for a vegetarian version of the Kashmiri pilaf.
Again there are a few different ways it is made but the key ingredients like using saffron, dry fruits, raisins and fresh fruits is the standard that is followed. This mildly sweet tasting dish is simply delicious with a medley of flavors that comes from so many simple ingredients and most importantly the ghee and fried onions contribute to a nutty aroma.
Kashmiri pulao is great to serve as a side when you have a spicy meal, as this dish greatly neutralizes the palette. Even the fussiest Kids will love this! Just top with their favorite sweet fruits like pomegranate arils, pineapple, apples, grapes or blueberries.
I have also eaten Kashmiri pulao in restaurants to which rose water is added and garnished with a few edible fresh rose petals.
This pulao can also be taken to school and office for a meal. I make this sometimes for the kids’ lunch box. Pack the chopped fruits separately in a container so they can be layered over the rice while serving.
This is also a great way to use up fruits leftover in your refrigerator. I often make a simple pomegranate raita to go with this pulao. Add some pomegranate seeds along with cumin powder, salt to whisked yogurt. pomegranate raita is ready to serve.
How to make Kashmiri pulao
1. Add 1 cup aged basmati rice to a bowl. You may use any other kind of non-sticky rice but preferably aromatic rice. I used the same kind of basmati rice we use for biryani.
2. Rinse it very well a few times and drain the water. Pour fresh water enough to immerse the rice and soak it until we need. I suggest to soak for at least 30 mins, so the grains cook up to fluffy and grainy texture.
3. While the rice soaks let us prepare the rest. This step is optional and you may just add the saffron strands while cooking directly. But saffron is usually bloomed in milk so followed this step. Pour 3 tbsp. milk to a small bowl and heat up. I heated up the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. You may heat up on the stovetop in a small bowl. Add 2 pinches of saffron strands and mix it. Set aside to soak.
4. Rinse and peel a small onion. Slice the onion evenly to slices. Crush fennel seeds in a mortar pestle. After the rice soaks and when you are ready to make the pulao, drain the water completely.
5. Heat a pressure cooker or pot with 1 tbsp ghee. When the ghee melts, add 8 to 10 cashews and fry them until light golden. You can also add sliced almonds if you want. Add the raisins and fry until they plump up. Remove these to a plate and set aside.
6. To the same pan, add another tbsp of ghee. Add the sliced onion and fry stirring constantly until light golden. Turn down the heat to lowest and continue to fry until light brown but not burnt. Remove these to the plate of cashews and raisins. If you find any ghee in the plate, pour it back to the cooker.
7. There won’t be much ghee left in the cooker or pot but it’s just okay to proceed. Turn off the heat and stir the following spices in ghee.
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 green cardamoms
- 4 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 black cardamom
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera), skip if you don’t have
- 1 teaspoon crushed fennel or ¾ teaspoon fennel powder
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger powder (optional). If you don’t like whole fennel use powdered fennel.
8. When the spices begin to sizzle, add soaked and drained rice, salt and ½ tbsp. ghee. Fry for about 3 to 4 minutes. Roasting of rice in ghee along with spices gives a good aroma to the Kashmiri pulao.
9. Pour saffron milk, 1 teaspoon rose water (optional) and 1 ½ cups water if cooking in a pressure cooker. You will need 2 cups water if cooking in a regular pot. Consider adding hot boiling water to speed up the process. Taste test and add more salt if you need. The water has to taste slightly salty.
10. Cover the pressure cooker and regulate the flame to medium. Cook it until you hear 1 whistle. If you are cooking in a pot, simply bring the water to a rolling boil, then reduce the flame to low and cover the pot. Cook on the lowest heat until the rice is cooked and perfectly done.
11. When the pressure drops, open the cooker and fluff up the rice with a fork.
12. Transfer the rice to a serving bowl.
Garnish with fried onions, nuts, raisins and chopped fruits. Kashmiri pulao is ready to serve.
Kashmiri pulao recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 2 to 2½ tablespoon ghee (more if you prefer)
- 1 cup basmati rice (refer notes)
- 1 small onion sliced thinly
- 2 pinch saffron (kesar or 1 tsp rose water or both)
- 3 tablespoon milk (optional, refer notes)
- 8 to 10 cashew nuts (split) or almonds
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1½ cup water for pressure cooker (or 2 cups to cook in pot, or 1¼ for instant pot)
- 1 to 2 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
- 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera, skip if you don't have)
- 1 small black cardamom (optional)
- 1 small cinnamon piece or dalchini
- 3 green cardamoms (ealichi)
- 4 cloves (laung)
- ½ teaspoon dry ginger powder (optional)
Fruits (use as much as you like)
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils
- ½ cup apple and pineapple chopped
- Rinse rice well a few times to remove the surface starch. Pour fresh water and soak for at least 30 mins. After 30 mins, drain completely. Slice an onion and squeeze them gently to separate the layers.
- Optional : You may skip this step if you want. Heat up milk in a small bowl and add saffron. Stir and let soak. You can microwave milk for 20 to 30 second to heat up the milk or heat on stovetop. Crush fennel seeds coarsely. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pot or pressure cooker. Add nuts and fry till light golden. Then add raisins and fry until they become plump. Remove them to a plate for later use.
- To the same pot, add 1 tbsp ghee and heat up. Add sliced onions (layers separated) and fry till light golden. Then turn down the heat to lowest and continue to fry until deep golden but not burnt. Set these aside as well.
How to make kashmiri pulao
- Transfer any ghee left in the nuts and fried onions to the pot. Add all the spices and fry till they begin to smell good. Do not burn.
- Add the drained rice. Sprinkle salt, sugar, ½ tbsp ghee and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour the saffron milk and water. If you prefer to skip the milk, you may add the saffron strands directly. Stir and check salt. The water has to be slightly salty.
- Cover the pressure cooker and cook on a medium heat until you hear 1 whistle. If cooking in pot bring the water to a rolling boil and then reduce the heat. Cover and cook until the rice is cooked.
- When the pressure drops, open the lid and fluff up the Kashmiri pulao with a fork.
- Transfer Kashmiri pulao to a serving bowl.
- Garnish with fried onions, nuts, raisins, and pomegranate, apple and pineapple chunks.
Cooking in Instant pot
- Follow all the saute steps in saute mode. While frying the onions switch to saute low so the onions get fried evenly. Pressure cook for 5 mins and wait for natural pressure release for 5 to 6 minutes and then open the lid.
- Fluff up the kashmiri pulao with a fork and let cool down for sometime before moving to serving dish. Later garnish with all the fried garnishes and fresh fruits.
- Rice: You may use any kind of fragrant rice but adjust the amount of water as required. The amount of water mentioned in the recipe is for aged basmati rice. It may vary with the kind of rice you use.
- Milk: You may skip milk and add the saffron directly to the rice while cooking. Usually saffron is soaked in milk so it blooms and releases a good color and aroma so I followed that step.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Kashmiri Pulao Recipe first published in November 2012. Updated and republished in June 2021.