Pulao Recipe | Vegetable Pulao

Updated: September 13, 2023, By Swasthi

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.

veg pulao vegetable pulao

Recipe Comments

If you are new to Indian cuisine, read on to know more.

About Pulao

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.

Veg pulao recipe made with basmati rice, vegetables and spices

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.

Photo Guide

How to Make Veg Pulao (Stepwise photos)

You will find the instructions here for stovetop cooker, instant pot and regular pot.

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.

preparing ingredients for pulao


1. On a medium flame, gently heat 2 tablespoons oil or ghee in a cooker or pot. To make in Instant pot, use saute mode. When the oil is slightly hot, add the following 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)
sauteing pulav spices in ghee for veg pulao recipe

2. When the spices begin to sizzle, add one thinly sliced onion. And then 1 to 2 slit green chilies.

frying onions till golden

3. When the onions turn golden, add 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste.

sauteing ginger garlic in oil to make veg pulao recipe

4. Saute well for 30 to 40 seconds, until the raw smell of ginger garlic disappears. Do not burn.

sauteing spices or masala in oil

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.

addition of mixed veggies

6. Next saute everything well until the mint smells good. Usually it takes about 2 to 3 minutes.

sauteing vegetables to make vegetable pulao recipe

7. Pour 2½ cups water if making in stovetop cooker (or 1¾ cups for Instant pot) and then add ½ teaspoon salt as well.

If cooking in a pot, pour 3 cups water.

addition of salt water to make vegetable pulao recipe

Make Vegetable Pulao

8. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then add soaked & drained rice. Ensure there is no water in the rice, else the veg pulao will turn mushy.

addition of soaked rice for veg pulao recipe

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.

To cook in Instant Pot: Press cancel and press pressure cook button, set the timer to 5 mins. Position the steam release handle/valve 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. Let cool down a bit before serving.

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.

cooked vegetable pulav in pressure cooker

10. Gently mix everything with a spatula or fluff up the rice with a fork.

Garnish vegetable pulao made in cooker

Serve veg pulao hot or warm with shorba or raita.

veg pulao recipe vegetable pualo pulav

Serving Suggestions

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.

Pro Tips

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

  1. Pressure cooker – I have included the instructions in the recipe card
  2. Pot or pan – Instructions mentioned in the recipe card
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

pulao recipe veg pulao vegetable pulao

Pulao Recipe | Veg Pulao | Vegetable Pulao | Pulav

5 from 592 votes
Pulao also known as veg pulao is a delicious one pot Indian dish made with rice, vegetables, spices and herbs. This basic rice pulao can be made in a pot, pressure cooker or instant pot with my easy recipe.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 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)
  • 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

  • On a medium flame, heat 2 tablespoons ghee or oil in a pot or pressure cooker.
  • When the oil is slightly hot, add all the whole spices.
  • When the spices begin to sizzle, add the onions & chilies. Saute until onions turn golden. 
  • Next saute ginger garlic paste, for 30 to 60 seconds, 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.


NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Pulao Recipe | Veg Pulao | Vegetable Pulao | Pulav
Amount Per Serving
Calories 510 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 51mg2%
Potassium 382mg11%
Carbohydrates 92g31%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 4620IU92%
Vitamin C 12.7mg15%
Calcium 74mg7%
Iron 2.2mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

This Pulao Recipe was first published in September 2015. Updated & Republished in November 2022.

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About Swasthi

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. More about me

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5 stars
Just love love all your receipes!!!

5 stars
Tried the vegetable pulao recipe. It turned out excellent. Thanks Swasti for sharing the recipe. Also liked the detailed method of preparing it.

5 stars
This came out great!Family loved it.

5 stars
Hi Swasthi love all your recipes. Thank you for all the details in your recipe. I’ve made this one multiple times and love it but often my rice is a little mushy and wet. I use the instant pot. Should I use less water? Less time in the instant pot?

5 stars
Thank you for this and the other recipes, they work as stated and taste delicious. I have a nice Indian grocery near where I live in Amsterdam and can get beautiful aged basmati. Love it! Just wanted you to know that your efforts are appreciated!

5 stars
I have been following your recipes. It comes almost perfect all the time. It’s healthy and tasty too.??

You said sauce ginger garlic paste for 30 to 60 mins, probably a typo for 3 to 6 mins….. My pressure cooked pulao in less quantity becomes over cooked sometimes, any hack for making the rice not too sticky. I observed, cooking pulao in electric cooker makes rice intact but becomes hard if eaten in lunch box.

5 stars
Hi! Wonderful and yummy recipe. Easy to follow..

5 stars
Lovely rice, quick and simple as well as yummy! There was a lot of improvisation of this recipe, but it still came out nice. I appreciate it being stated clearly what spices are optional and substitutions. Thank you for being my go-to for wonderful Indian recipes ?

5 stars
Hi Swasthi!

Thank you for a wonderful recipe! I was wondering if I could add some saffron to this veg pulao recipe. What do you think?


Hi Swasthi, thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

How can you modify this recipe to use brown basmati rice? I try to avoid white rice since several of my family members have diabetes. Would it be best to cook the rice and masala/veggies separately and then mix together since brown rice takes much longer to cook than white rice?

I am new to Indian cooking. 1. Do you heat up the wok first (?) and then heat the oil hot (?) in medium (?)or low flamef(?) before adding spice to fry or you can directly fry in cold pan and oil at what kind of heat (?) . What is means to fry ginger garlic paste until no raw smell, how to determine? Thank you.

5 stars
Nice…Well explained.Thanks for Sharing.

5 stars
Best recipe for veg pulao. So well explained in details and easy to follow up steps.

5 stars
Love this pulao recipe. It helped me make the most delicious and fluffy vegetable pulao. Thank you

5 stars
This is one of the best pulao recipes ??? I have tried making pulao but they were no good. Your recipe is fine tuned to the T.. including the number of whistles!! ?? I tried this today and everyone in my house is extremely impressed!! Thanks a lot.

5 stars
Thank you Swasthi for this wonderful comfy pulao! I added a dash of turmeric for color and left out the chili peppers. Turned out amazing! Your site is my go-to for Indian recipes. Keep up the great work.

5 stars
This pulao made my husband’s day! Wants it on a regular weekly dinner now soooo good. Pairs wonderfully with your vegetable korma and cucumber raita.

5 stars
My Pulao always turned mushy but this recipe helped. It turns out wonderful every time. Great instructions on how to use basmati rice correctly. Your recipes are so easy and every time I learn something new. Thank you

5 stars
Wonderful, Thanks for sharing, will do, with the best regaeds
Piyush Panchasara

5 stars
First of all I have to say that I have tried this pulao recipe both on the stovetop cooker and in instant pot and it turns out amazing always. Sometimes I also use half coconut milk and half water, to my surprise that tastes delicious too. Mint leaves are classic in this pulao.