Pulao Recipe | Vegetable Pulao
Pulao Recipe with stovetop & instant pot instructions. Veg Pulao also known as 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 perfect pulao at home with basic pantry ingredients. You can use either a regular pot or a cooker.
If you are new to Indian cuisine, read on to know more.
Pulao is a one pot rice dish made by cooking fragrant basmati rice with aromatic whole spices, herbs & sometimes stock. There are many kinds of pulao made in India like vegetable pulao, Matar pulao, Tawa pulao, Coconut milk pulav, Zarda pulao, Kashmiri pulao, Yakhni Pulao & Chicken pulao.
This veg pulao is the most basic dish & is made often in many Indian homes. You will also find it always on the party, buffet & celebration menus, served along with a yogurt raita & sometimes a Kurma/korma/shorba.
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.
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. My recipe will yield you the same results.
I have a brief Ingredients and substitutes section to help you decide on them.
Ingredients & Substitutes
Spices: Always use good quality whole spices as they are the key to make a aromatic veg pulao. You can also crush the spices lightly & use to release the aroma. There is no substitute to bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms & star anise. While you may skip the rest your pulao won’t really have those aromatic flavors.
Ginger garlic paste can be substituted with grated ginger and garlic but not with chopped or with ground dried ginger and garlic. You won’t get the same flavors.
Herbs: Do not skip fresh mint or pudina leaves as it the next key ingredient that infuses aroma to the veg pulao. If you want you may add a mix of coriander leaves (cilantro) and mint. If fresh is not available you may use a teaspoon of mint paste.
Rice: Normally aged basmati rice is used to make vegetable pulao. But if you do not have, just use any other kind of rice that is non-sticky. Sona masuri, Jeerakasala, samba rice, ponni rice, all these go well. You will need to adjust the water as needed depending on the rice.
Mixed Vegetables: I normally use carrots, green beans, potatoes, sweet corn, baby corn & peas depending on the availability. Opt for frozen veggies to save time. Frozen veggies don’t require sautéing so you may pour water immediately after adding them to the pot.
How to Make Veg Pulao (Stepwise photos)
Preparation for pulao
You need to prepare the ingredients first. Rinse 1½ cups basmati rice a few times until the water runs clear. Then soak it and set aside for at least 15 to 20 mins. Meanwhile prepare the veggies.
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced & 1 green chilli slit
- 1 medium carrot (chopped)
- half cup green peas
- 4 French beans (chopped)
- Handful of mint leaves
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (¾ inch piece ginger and 3 garlic cloves)
If you want you can also make a fine paste of ginger, garlic, green chilies and mint leaves.
1. Add 2 tablespoons oil or ghee to a cooker or pot. Add whole spices –
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 inch cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- 4 green cardamom
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera or jeera
- 1 star anise (optional, but recommended)
- 1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
- little dagad phool (stone flower) (optional)
- 1 small strand mace (optional)
2. When the spices begin to sizzle, add one thinly sliced onions. And then 1 to 2 slit green chilies. Saute them well.
3. When the onions turn golden, add 1½ teaspoon 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 if you like.
6. Next saute everything well until the mint smells good. Usually it takes about 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Pour 2½ cups water if making in cooker and then add ½ teaspoon salt as well.
If cooking in a pot, pour 3 cups water.
Make Vegetable Pulao
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 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 for 10 mins so the rice grains turn fluffy.
10. Gently mix everything with a spatula or fluff up the rice with a fork.
Serve veg pulao hot or warm with shorba or raita.
This vegetable pulao can be served without any side dishes. However a basic Raita compliments the meal. This boondi raita is our favorite.
For special occasions or when we have guests home, we serve vegetable pulao with a Salan or Shorba – Sherva.
Non-vegetarians can serve veg pulao with Egg curry or with Chicken curry or any grilled dishes like Kababs. However if you are short of time, just enjoy it with some plain Curd & papads.
Pulao masala: For more aromatic veg pulao, you can make a paste of onions, ginger garlic, mint, cinnamon and cardamoms. 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. 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
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.
Pulao Recipe | Veg Pulao | Vegetable Pulao | Pulav
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US 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 pinch nut meg (jaiphal) (optional)
- 2 pinches stone flower (dagad phool – optional)
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds powder (saunf powder – optional)
- 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. (If you want you can also make a fine paste of ginger garlic, green chilies and mint.) Set all of these aside.
How to Make Veg Pulao
- 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.
- 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.
- adding too much mace or nutmeg can make your pulao bitter.
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
This Pulao Recipe was first published in September 2015. Updated & Republished in November 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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My favorite pulao recipe. Turns out amazing always. Thank you
Glad you like it Sam. Thanks for trying
Love this simple pulao recipe. I made it for a potluck along with your kurma. Everyone loved them. Thank you for the pictorial representation. Really helps.
Glad to know Jeena. Thanks for sharing back how they turned out.
Hi there ? Trying to make this for a pot luck.. can you confirm how much water to add in the instapot if making 3x the recipe ?
I haven’t tried 3x in the IP. It is better to make it on stovetop in a pot as it gives better results.
sir/madam aapki recipe bahut hi aacchi hai mai esako apane ghar me try karungi aapki recipe bahut hi helpful hai
I tried the veg puloa recipe and it’s simply awesome! I tweaked it with my style and my family loved it! Thank you for sharing your easy and delicious recipe.
Glad to know! Same here I too tweak this recipe many times but love this classic version than any other.
Hi, can I confirm if you want to make this for two people you should press 2x and follow those quantities? I did that and ended up with way too much rice!
Sorry you got it wrong. 1x serves 3 people. There is a small box in the recipe card which shows servings 3, means 1x recipe makes 3 servings.
If you want to make 2 servings, you should be changing that number 3 to 2 in the servings box. Hope this clears.
Please cool the rice completely. Store it in a air tight container and refrigerate. It keeps good for 2 days. You may reheat it later.
You are my go to person for any recipe, thanks. Your recipes are simple and moreover your explaination is superb.
Thank you so much Sendil
Glad the recipes are helping
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Your recipes are easy to follow and I’ve always been a fan of them.
Can you please elaborate a little more on the pulao masala you’ve mentioned? Does this mean we have to fry all the spices + onion + mint and keep that mixture frozen to be used later ?
Thank you! To make the pulao masala, just blend mint, onions, chilies, ginger, garlic, cardamoms, cinnamon (divided from the recipe) to a smooth paste. Saute this in oil with the rest of the whole spices, until the raw smell of onions has gone completely. Cool this and store in a glass jar in the fridge. Keeps good for 2 to 3 weeks. When you want to make pulao, simply add some of this paste, mix veggies (frozen works well too) and water to the rinsed rice and cook. The flavor will be different from the regular pulao but works really well. Hope this helps.
Thank you! 🙂
I tried yours just as you said. It came out perfectly. Infact i tried in instant pot for the first time as my pressure cooker wouldn’t take that many cups of rice, and it came out very well. Thank you 😊
Glad it turned out good. Thank you
Hi! When I doubled the recipe the pulao ended up mushy. What could be the reason?
Sometimes it may be the basmati rice itself. I use lalquilla old malai.
I assume you have used a stovetop pressure cooker. Next time follow the same recipe and release the pressure manually after 3 to 4 mins. If you make 3x may be increase to 5 mins or so. Sometimes pulao gets overcooked even after taking it off the heat, due to the pressure in the cooker. Be careful while you release the pressure, use a long wooden spatula & gently lift the whistle. If you see water releasing you should stop which means it is not cooked yet. This trick works well upto 6 cups of rice. Hope this helps.
This was wonderful! My indian husband approved it, and I couldn’t stop eating it! I wonder: can I make this with brown rice? (Since white rice is not very nutritious)
Glad to know! Yes this can be made with brown rice but the veggies turn too mushy if you make in the same method. I cook the brown rice with the tempering of whole spices until 80% done. Then later saute the veggies separately and then add to the rice. This way the veggies won’t get mushy. Hope this helps.
Thank you Swasthi for this wonderfully easy recipe. I tried this Pulav recipe for the first time using an instant pot and frozen veggies and it looked and tasted amazing even though I didn’t have most of the optional ingredients. Your rice and water ratios and cooking time for instant pot were perfect. Thanks so much again for posting this!
Thank you! So glad to know
Your recipies are awesome. Thank you.
Thank you so much
I make this all the time and receive the best compliments. Thank you, Swasthi!!!
Over the years your blog has been my go to recipe site whenever making something new. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your detailed recipe instructions and your passion for maintaining healthy meal options. I hope you know how many thousands of people and families you’ve no doubt made a positive difference on!
This is one of the best compliments I have ever got and this means a lot to me. Thank you so much! You made my day!
Thank you so much. I was able to prepare this dish perfectly because of your clear instructions. Love all ur recipes. You are one of the reason that I have overcome the fear of cooking. Thanks again 🙂🤗
So glad to know! Thank you!
I am a 60 year old retired man trying to cook for myself and my wife. Your recipes have helped me since last year. We both want to thank you for all the efforts in takin the pictures and writing the details for us. God bless you.
Thank you so much for the wishes.
So happy to know the recipes are useful.
This is the first time I made something all by myself. Thank you for the simple instructions. My pulao was extremely delicious. Served with your chaas & my family can’t stop appreciating me. Thank you.
So good to know that!. Thank you
Do we cook the rice first ??
This is a good
We add mint and coriander chutney before adding rice. I use basmati rice cook for exactly 10 mins on cooker without whistle. It turns too delicious and spicy. I tried just adding coriander and mint but it was not spicy/tasty.
Very accurate recipe:
I noticed my pulav gets bitter, what all could be the reason? I mean which spice?
If the spices are too old they will release bitter taste after cooking. The other reasons can be frying the ginger garlic for too long or using lot of mace.