Pulao recipe – stovetop & instant pot versions with step by step photos & video. Veg pulao or vegetable pulao is a basic Indian style rice pilaf that is aromatic, delicious, healthy & super quick to make for a meal. This detailed step by step recipe post will teach you how to make pulao recipe at home with basic pantry ingredients. You can use either a pot or a cooker.
If you are new to Indian cuisine, these faqs may help you
What is pulao?
Pulao is a one pot rice dish made by cooking fragrant basmati rice with aromatic spices, herbs & sometimes stock. There are many kinds of pulao recipes made in India like vegetable pulao, Matar pulao, tawa pulao, Coconut milk pulao, zarda pulao, kashmiri pulao & Chicken pulao.
This veg pulao recipe is one of the basic dish made often in many Indian homes. It is also the one most commonly found on the menu for parties, buffets & celebrations served along with a yogurt raita.
There are a few different methods of making vegetable pulao recipe. Each region has a different way of making it. I am sharing a simple generic veg pulao recipe that we make at home. It tastes super delicious & is very fragrant.
This not only goes well for a regular or a special meal but is also great to pack in office & school lunch boxes.
Since this is the simplest of the Indian rice dishes made with very little preparation, it is super quick & ridiculously easy to make even for a party when you have a crowd.
Tips to make good pulao recipe
- Spices: Always use good quality whole spices as it is the key to make a aromatic veg pulao. You can also crush the spices lightly & use to release the aroma.
- Herbs: Do not skip fresh mint or pudina leaves as it the next key ingredient that infuses aroma to the veg pulao.
- Rice: Normally basmati rice is used to make vegetable pulao. But if you do not have, just use any other kind of rice. You will need to adjust the water as needed depending on the rice.
- Pulao masala: For more aromatic veg pulao, you can make a paste of onions, ginger garlic, mint and all the whole spices. This paste can be made ahead and refrigerated. If you have this paste & mixed veggies ready in the fridge, then making vegetable pulao just takes less than 15 mins.
How to cook the best pulao
Though the ingredients used are the key to make a fragrant and delicious veg pulao, the cooking procedure also matters the most.
A perfectly cooked vegetable pulao should have fluffy, separate rice grains that are not sticky & not mushy yet fully cooked.
The dish must have a unique aroma of mint and whole spices like cinnamon, cardamoms & cloves. Here are the key pointers to cook the best veg pulao.
- Rinsing: Always rinse the rice well for at least 3 times until the water runs clear. This reduces the starch from the rice grains which is the culprit to mushy & sticky veg pulao.
- Soaking: Soak rice for at least 15 to 20 mins. When soaked rice grains absorb water and swell up to the maximum when cooked making them fluffy & perfectly cooked.
- Frying rice: If you are making plain pulao without veggies then you can roast the drained rice in ghee & spices. For vegetable pulao, I do not fry the rice as most times I have experienced the soaked rice grains break when fried with veggies.
- Ratio: Rice to water ratio is the key to get fully cooked grainy pulao. Adjust the amount of water depending on the rice. Add water according to the cooking method opted by you. More details below in the recipe card.
Methods to cook pulao recipe
There are different methods I follow to make vegetable pulao. It can be made in a
- Pressure cooker – I have included the instructions in the recipe card
- Pot or pan – Instructions mentioned in the recipe card
- Electric cooker – Saute the spices, then the onions, ginger garlic, mint & vegetables in a small pan. Then transfer this to a electric cooker along with rice, salt and water. Cook as you would prepare normal rice with the same amount of water you use for regular cooking.
- Instant pot – Instructions below
There are so many different variations of making veg pulao. The basic one is made with mixed vegetables. I make vegetable pulao with most veggies & even with greens.
If you are a health nut like me you may like to explore these options for fussy folks Carrot rice, Beetroot rice, Palak rice, Methi rice. There are also some vegetable pulao recipes made with precooked rice.
Preparation for veg pulao
Rinse 1½ cups basmati rice a few times until the water runs clear. Then soak it and set aside for atleast 15 to 20 mins. Meanwhile prepare the veggies.
Prepare the veggies
Slice 1 medium onion (about ¾ cup).
Peel & chop 1 medium carrot (about ¾ cup).
Chop 4 beans to 1 inch pieces.
Rinse ½ cup green peas.
Peel, chop & cube 1 small potato (optional, I don’t use)
Slit or chop 1 to 2 green chilies.
Rinse handful of mint leaves (pudina) in a large bowl of water. Drain the water and rinse a few times. Drain completely and chop them finely.
Make 1½ teaspoon of ginger garlic paste. Once done with the chopping, drain the soaked rice to a colander.
How to make veg pulao in cooker
1. Add 2 tablespoons oil or ghee to a pressure cooker or pot. If making for lunch box, avoid using ghee. Add whole spices
1 bay leaf
2 inch cinnamon
4 green cardamom
½ to ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera or jeera
1 star anise (optional, but recommended)
little piece of nutmeg (optional)
little dagad phool (stone flower) (optional)
1 strand mace (optional)
I also use half teaspoon saunf or fennel powder. For a less fragrant rice skip nutmeg, saunf and dagad phool.
2. When the spices begin to sizzle, add thinly sliced onions. And then slit green chilies too. Saute them well.
3. When the onions turn golden, add ground ginger garlic paste.
4. Saute well until the raw smell of ginger garlic disappears. Do not burn.
5. Add mixed veggies and chopped mint/ pudina. I use peas, beans and carrots most of the times. You can also use potatoes and a handful of split cashews or softened soya chunks.
6. Next saute everything well until the mint smells good. Usually it takes about 2 to 3 minutes. You can also add soaked drained rice now. And then saute for 2 minutes. I do not do this.
7. Pour 2½ cups water if making in cooker and then add ½ teaspoon salt as well. If you have sauteed rice in the previous step, I suggest adding hot water to cook otherwise rice grains may break.
If cooking in a pot, pour 3 cups water.
Making vegetable pulao recipe
8. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then add soaked & drained rice. Ensure there is no water in the rice, otherwise the veg pulao will turn mushy.
9. Stir gently and taste test the water. If needed add more salt.
If making in pressure cooker: Cover with the lid and cook veg pulao in pressure cooker on a medium high flame for one whistle. For al dente rice, Immediately I release the pressure of the cooker manually with the help of a spatula.
If cooking in a pot, cover the pot with the lid. Cook on a low flame until the water is absorbed and rice is cooked completely. Perfectly done veg pulao in a pot should have no more moisture at the bottom and the rice should be fully done. Once done, turn off the stove and cover the pot. Let it rest so the rice grains turn fluffy.
10. Gently mix everything with a ladle or Fluff up the rice with a fork.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1½ cups basmati rice (aged rice)
- 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
- salt as needed
- 2 ½ cups water for pressure cooker ( 2¾ cups for pot, 1¾ cups for Instant pot)
- 1½ teaspoons ginger garlic paste
Vegetables & herbs
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 green chilies slit or as needed
- 1 medium carrot (¾ cup chopped)
- 4 medium french beans (½ cup chopped to 1 inch)
- ½ cup green peas
- 1 small potato cubed (optional)
- 3 tablespoons mint (pudina, finely chopped) (or coriander leaves)
Whole spices for veg pulao
- 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
- ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera (caraway seeds) (substitute cumin seeds)
- 4 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 4 cloves (laung)
- 2 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
- 1 star anise (chakri phool) (optional, but recommended)
- 1 strand mace (javithri, optional)
- 1 small piece nut meg (jaiphal) (optional)
- 2 pinches stone flower (dagad phool – optional)
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds powder (saunf powder – optional)
How to make the recipe
- Add basmati rice to a bowl and rinse it a few times until water runs clear.
- Soak it for at least 20 minutes. After 20 mins, drain off the water completely and set aside.
- While the rice soaks, rinse carrots, beans, peas, potatoes, onions, chilies & mint leaves.
- Peel the carrots and potatoes. Nip off both the ends of beans and chop all of them to bite sized pieces.
- Slice onions and slit green chill. Fine chop the mint leaves. Set all of these aside.
How to make veg pulao recipe
- Heat 2 tablespoons ghee or oil in a hot pot or pressure cooker.
- Add all the whole spices & saute for 30 to 60 seconds or until they begin to sizzle.
- Fry onions & chilies until onions turn golden.
- Next saute ginger garlic paste until the raw smell goes off.
- Add all the veggies and mint. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour water and add salt too. Taste the water, it has to be slightly salty.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil. Next add drained rice and stir.
- If cooking in pot, cover and cook on a low heat until all the water is absorbed and the rice grains are cooked. When the rice is done, turn off the stove. Cover and let the veg pulao rest in the pot for 10 to 15 mins. This helps the rice grains to become fluffy.
- If making in pressure cooker, cover the cooker with the lid. Then cook on a medium high flame for 1 whistle.
- Switch off the stove. When the pressure releases, remove the lid and fluff up the veg pulao rice with a fork.
- Serve veg pulao hot or warm with a simple raita or gravy.
Instant pot pulao
- Press SAUTE button on the instant pot. Pour ghee or oil to the inner pot. Saute the spices in the hot oil for 30 seconds.
- Fry onions & green chilies until transparent for 2 mins. Then fry ginger garlic paste just for 30 seconds.
- Next add in all the chopped veggies and mint. Saute for 2 mins. Add the drained rice (1 ½ cups) and salt. Press CANCEL button.
- Pour 1¾ cups water and mix. Taste the salt level and add more if needed.
- Scrape the bottom gently with the spatula to release any bits of food stuck. This prevents a burn notice. Secure the instant pot with the lid.
- Press PRESSURE COOK button (high pressure) & set the timer for 5 mins. Position the steam release handle to sealing.
- Instant pot beeps when it is done. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 mins.
- Release the rest manually by moving the steam release handle from sealing to venting with a spoon.
- Fluff up the vegetable pulao with a fork & serve with yogurt raita.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- Always use aged rice which gives fluffy and grainy pulao.
- If using frozen mix veggies, use 1.5 cups.
- You will need to adjust the quantity of water depending on the rice. If using normal rice, use more water.
- Stone flower or dagad phool makes the pulao very flavorful.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
If you are new to cooking, follow my detailed step by step photo instructions for best results.