Peas Pulao is a classic Indian rice pilaf made with basmati rice, whole spices, herbs and of course green peas as they are the star of this dish. ‘Matar’ is the Hindi word for ‘green peas’ and pulao is a word for pilaf. So this is more commonly known as matar pulao. This easy one pot dish is super simple to make and just takes 30 minutes.
It is so much flavorful & can be eaten without a side. But most people prefer to serve it with a simple raita or a veggie salad. For a special meal, we serve it with a good restaurant style curry, raita & some papads on the side.
About this recipe
This super easy one pot peas pulao is made much the same way as any other Indian rice pilaf. It uses pantry staples like onions, green chilies, basmati rice, ginger garlic, whole spices, ghee or oil & fresh or frozen green peas.
There is no one way peas pualo is made in the Indian households. Every family has their own recipe. Some people make it with minimal ingredients and don’t use any onions and herbs. It’s just the whole spices, rice and peas.
But my recipe uses one very aromatic herb – mint (pudina). We personally feel a pulao is incomplete without mint leaves as it adds a whole lot of aroma to the dish. If you do not like the flavor of mint leaves, you can skip them.
Peas pulao can be made in a regular pot, pressure cooker, electric cooker or an Instant pot. I have the instructions covered to make in all of these.
This recipe of matar pulao is the way my mom would make for us mostly when fresh peas were in season. Green peas are a seasonal legume and the markets are flooded with fresh pea pods during the winters.
But I make peas pulao with frozen peas as I am rarely accessible to the fresh pods. This is one of the dishes I make at least once a week as my boys love it. It goes very well even in school & office lunch box.
I also make sure to cook peas pulao when we have guests home and plan for an elaborate menu. Since there is no chopping of any veggies it is really quick to make this.
I made this peas pulao, a simple chicken curry and a carrot raita for our lunch during the last weekend.
How to make peas pulao (in cooker)
1. Wash 1.5 cups rice a few times until the water runs clear. Soak it for at least 30 mins. Drain and set aside. Slice 1 medium onion and slit 2 green chilies. Make a fine paste of 1 inch ginger & 3 cloves garlic. We need about ¾ tablespoon of paste. Also if using mint leaves, rinse, drain and fine chop them.
2. Pour 2 tablespoons oil or ghee to a hot pressure cooker. When the ghee becomes hot, add
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
2 inch thin cinnamon piece
4 green cardamoms
1 strand mace
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or shahi jeera)
4 to 5 cloves
3. When the spices begin to sizzle, add sliced onions & green chili.
4. Saute the onions on a medium flame until deep golden and begin to caramelize.
5. Then add ¾ tablespoon ginger garlic paste.
6. Saute on a low flame until a nice aroma comes out. This takes about a minute.
7. Then add 1 cup green peas and fine chopped mint leaves. Saute for a minute until the mint leaves begin to smell good.
8. Then add drained rice and fry on a slightly high flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not over mix or mix vigorously as the rice grains will break.
9. Then add ¾ teaspoon salt and pour 2½ cups water. Give a good mix and taste the water. It has to be slightly salty. If not add more salt.
10. Cover the pressure cooker and place the whistle. Pressure cook for 1 whistle on a medium high flame. Turn off and remove from the stove. Leaving it on the hot burner will further cook the rice.
11. When the pressure drops naturally, open the lid and fluff the peas pulao. For al dente rice, after 2 mins I release the pressure manually with a wooden spatula.
Peas pulao in pot
1. This step is optional, you can also skip it. We usually prefer cashews in peas pulao so used it. Add 2 tbsp oil or ghee to a hot pot. Ghee lends a special aroma. Fry them until golden. Set these aside to a plate.
2. To the same pot, add spices and saute for a minute or 2. You can skip whatever you don’t have. Spices to use are –
1 star anise / chakri phool
1 strand mace/ javitri
4 to 5 green cardamoms / elaichi
4 to 5 cloves / lavang
1 tsp jeera / cumin (or shahi jeera)
1 bay leaf / tej patta
2 inch thin cinnamon piece. If using true cinnamon like me, you can use up to 3 – 2 inch pieces.
3. Add sliced onions and slit green chilies.
4. Saute until they turn golden.
5. Lower the flame and add 3/4 tbsp ginger garlic paste.
6. Fry until the raw smell goes off. Add mint leaves here and fry for 2 mins. I forgot at this stage so added later.
7. Add 1 cup green peas.
8. Add drained rice.
9. Saute everything well for 3 to 4 mins. Handle the rice gently otherwise grains will break.
10. Pour 2.5 cups water. If you are using rice from new harvest or sticky rice, you will need to heat water separately in a different pot and pour here.
11. Add salt. Stir and taste the water. It must be medium salty.
12. Since I forgot to add the mint leaves earlier I added them here.
13. Allow to cook on a low to medium heat until the water is almost absorbed. But it must be still soggy as you see below.
15. Cover the pot at this stage , lower the flame and cook for 5 to 7 mins. Switch off the stove and allow to rest for a while.
16. If the rice is undercooked and needs more water, then pour little hot water and give a stir. Cover and cook until it is done. Fluff it up with a fork.
Garnish with cashews just before serving peas pulao. Enjoy with a raita or gravy.
Ingredients & substitutes
Rice: Usually basmati rice is used to make any rice pulao. So this matar pulao is also made with the same. But any other premium quality rice can also be used. Jasmine rice or Sona masuri rice also works well.
Ensure you use aged rice so your matar pulao don’t become mushy or sticky. Avoid using sticky rice or rice that tends to get mushy after cooking.
Green peas: Fresh or frozen peas can be used to make matar pulao. If the green peas are mature and are harder (not tender or young), then you can precook them for 2 to 3 minutes in a pot. Drain and use them in the recipe. This is only if you are using basmati rice.
This recipe is best made with fresh or frozen peas but dried peas work but the flavour won’t be the same. To use them check the tips below.
Fresh herbs: Mint leaves (pudina) enhance the flavour of matar pulao. If you do not have skip them or use the same amount of coriander leaves to garnish at the end.
Whole spices: Use good quality whole spices that are within the shelf period otherwise they impart a bitter taste and flavour to the dish. Star anise, bay leaf, cumin (or shahi jeera), cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves are used.
Other spices like black cardamoms, a single strand of mace & a pinch of nutmeg can also be used. Replacing the whole spices with ground spices won’t give the same flavor to the peas pulao.
Water: Adjust the water quantity as needed depending on the kind of rice used & the cooking method adapted by you. The water quantities I have mentioned work well for aged basmati rice.
If using any other kind, use the same amount of water as you would use to cook plain rice.
Rinsing rice: Rinsing rice helps to get rid of the excess starch on the surface of the rice. So each grain of rice will be separate and won’t turn turn mushy. So do rinse it thrice in lots of water.
Soaking rice: Ensure rice is soaked for at least 20 to 30 minutes. This way every rice grain expands well to the maximum length. Unsoaked rice usually requires more water so if you still want to cook unsoaked rice, then you may need a few tbsps more water.
To use dried peas, rinse and soak for 8 hours to rehydrate them. Pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles with double the amount of water. They should be cooked al dente & retain their shape.
Drain the water completely. Discard any loosened skin of the peas as they won’t taste good in the pulao. Use them the same way mentioned in the recipe.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1½ cups basmati rice
- 2½ cups water for pressure cooker (1¾ cups for instant pot, 3 cups for pot)
- 1¼ to 1½ cup green peas (matar, fresh or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or minced)
- 1 to 2 green chilies slit
- ¼ cup mint leaves (or coriander leaves fine chopped)
- 1 medium onion (optional, ½ cup sliced or chopped)
- 2 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 10 cashews (adjust to taste)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera or shahi jeera)
- 4 to 5 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 4 to 5 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 inch cinnamon piece (or Ceylon cinnamon three – 2 inch pieces)
- 1 star anise (optional)
- 1 to 2 strands mace (optional)
Preparation for peas pulao
- Wash and soak rice for at least 30 mins. If you are in a hurry you can soak it in hot water for 15 mins and use up. Discard the water and drain to a colander.
- Slice onions (if using) and mint leaves. Slit the green chilies. Make the ginger garlic paste. Set them aside.
How to make peas pulao
- Heat ghee or oil in a pot or cooker.
- Saute cashews if using. When they turn golden remove them to a bowl and set aside for later to garnish.
- Next add cumin, cardamoms, mace, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and star anise. Saute them for a minute.
- Add onions if using and fry until golden. Keep stirring them while frying. You can also skip onions.
- Next add ginger garlic paste and fry until the raw smell goes away.
- Saute mint leaves for 2 mins.
- Next add peas and rice. Saute for 3 to 4 mins.
- Pour water and add salt. Stir well and taste test. Add more if needed. The water must taste medium salty.
- For pressure cooker, cook for 1 whistle on a medium high flame. Turn off and remove from stove immediately. For al dente rice I release the pressure manually by lifting the whistle with a spatula.
- If cooking in a pot, cook covered on a low heat until the water is absorbed.
- Fluff up with a fork once done. Allow to rest for sometime.
- Garnish peas pulao with fried nuts. Serve with raita or any gravy of your choice.
Instant pot peas pulao
- Press the saute button and pour ghee/oil to the inner pot of instant pot.
- Add the spices & saute for 30 seconds.
- If using onion, add them along with green chilli and fry until they turn light golden.
- Then add ginger garlic paste and fry just for 30 seconds.
- Quickly add in peas & mint leaves. Fry for 2 mins.
- Add 1½ cup soaked & drained rice. Optionally you can also fry the rice for 2 mins.
- Pour 1¾ cups water. Press cancel. Stir in some salt & taste it. If needed add more. Deglaze the pot to release any bits of food stuck at the bottom.
- Secure the lid of the instant pot & set the pressure release handle to sealing.
- Press the pressure cook button (high pressure) and set the timer for 5 mins.
- When the IP beeps, wait for 4 to 5 mins and then do a manual pressure release by moving the vent from sealing to venting. For softer rice, you can let the pressure drop naturally for 8 mins & then release the rest.
- Peas pulao is ready. Fluff up with a fork. Serve with raita
- Green peas: Fresh or frozen peas work well for this recipe. To use dried peas, soak them overnight and pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles until al dente. Drain off the water and discard any loosened skins. Use the same way as mentioned in the recipe.
- Rice: Aged Basmati rice (old crop/ harvest) rice is best for matar pulao. Jasmine rice or sona masuri (aged) rice also works well. Avoid using sticky rice that tends to become mushy.
- Water: The quantities mentioned in the recipe card works well for me with premium quality basmati rice. If you are using any other kind, use the same amount of water as you would use to cook it plain. Also if you do not soak the rice for minimum 20 to 30 minutes, rice may need few tablespoons more water.
- Do not substitute whole spices with ground spices, the taste of peas pulao won’t be the same.
- Instant pot notes: This recipe is tested in a 6 qts Instant pot. I use aged basmati rice. If the rice grains turn slightly hard, add 2 tablespoons more water next time. To use any other kind of rice, soak and cook with the same amount of water as you would to cook it plain.
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
Peas pulao post first published in June 2016. Updated & republished in January 2021.