Pulao recipe – Also known as veg pulao, this 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 at home with basic pantry ingredients.
What is pulao?
Pulao is a one pot rice dish made by cooking fragrant basmati rice with aromatic spices, herbs & sometimes stock.
Veg pulao is a variation of the basic rice pilaf made with mix vegetables apart from basmati rice, herbs & whole spices.
Plain or sada pulav is made with just rice, herbs & spices. No veggies or meat is used in this. You can follow the same recipe shared below and make a plain pulao.
Veg pulao is one of the basic rice dishes made often in most Indian homes. It is also the one most commonly found on the menu for parties or 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.
Serving suggestions for veg pulao
Tips to make good pulao
- 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 of the spices.
- Do not skip fresh mint or pudina leaves as it the next key ingredient that infuses aroma to the veg pulao.
- 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.
- 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.
- Always wash 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Variations of veg pulao
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.
Veg pulao recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1½ cups basmati rice (or any fragrant rice)
- 2 tbsp oil or ghee
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 green chilies slit or as needed
- 1 to 1½ cups mix vegetables chopped (carrots, beans, peans, potatoes)
- salt as needed
- 2 ½ cups water for pressure cooker ( 2¾ cups for pot, 2 cups for Instant pot)
- 3 tbsp mint (or pudina, finely chopped)
- 1½ tsp ginger garlic paste
Whole spices for veg pulao
- 1 bay leaf (or tej patta)
- 1 star anise (or chakri phool)
- 1 strand mace (or javithri , large strand)
- ½ to ¾ tsp shahi jeera (or caraway seeds) (or jeera – cumin)
- 4 green cardamoms (or elaichi)
- 6 cloves (or laung)
- 2 inch cinnamon (or dalchini)
- 1 small piece nut meg (or jaiphal) (optional)
- ¼ tsp fennel seeds powder (or saunf powder – optional)
- 2 pinches stone flower (or dagad phool – optional)
How to make the recipe
- Wash rice a few times until water runs clear. Soak it for at least 15 minutes. Drain off the water and set aside. Chop all the vegetables and slice onions. Chop mint and slit green chilies. If making for kids skip or deseed chilli for less spice.
- Heat ghee or oil in a hot pan. Next add in the whole spices – bay leaf, star anise, mace, cumin, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and stone flower. Fry them lightly in hot oil until they sizzle. Add the fennel powder (optional) if using.
- Add onions & chilies then fry until onions turn golden. Fry 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.
- Pressure cooker: Cover the cooker with the lid. Then cook on a medium high flame for 1 whistle. Cooking in pot: Cook on a medium heat until all the water is absorbed. When the rice is still soggy, cover with a lid. Cook on a low flame for 4 to 5 mins until the rice is done fully.
- Switch off the stove. When the pressure releases, remove the lid and fluff up the rice. Serve veg pulao hot or warm with a simple raita or gravy.
Video recipe of veg pulao in pressure cooker
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.
Instant pot veg pulao recipe
I have been using instant pot for quite some time now for most of my cooking. This veg pulao recipe is one of the most made with fluffy, perfectly cooked, non-sticky rice grains each time. Here is how to do it.
1.Press the saute button. Pour oil to the inner pot of instant pot. Saute the spices in the hot oil for 1 minute.
2.Add onions and green chilies. Fry until transparent for 2 mins. Then fry ginger garlic paste just for 30 seconds.
3.Next add in all the chopped veggies and mint. Saute for 2 mins. Add the drained rice (1 ½ cups) and salt.
4.Pour 2 cups water and mix. Taste the salt level and add more if needed. Instant pot requires less water to cook pulao. So I use 2 cups.
5.Scrape the bottom gently to release any bits of food stuck. This prevents a burn notice. Secure the lid of the instant pot. Pressure cook on high pressure for 5 mins. When done cancel & switch off.
6.After 1 to 2 mins release the pressure manually with the help of a kitchen towel. This will give you al dente veg pulao. To get slightly softer pulao allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 mins. Then release the rest manually.
Fluff up the vegetable pulao with a fork & serve with raita. Do not stir vigorously other wise the pulao turns mushy.
How to make veg pulao in cooker
1. Add oil or ghee in a pressure cooker or pot. If making for lunch box, avoid using ghee. Add dry spices – bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, Shahi jeera, star anise, little piece of nutmeg and dagad phool (stone flower) mace as well. I also use 1/4 tsp 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.
3. When the onions turn golden, then add freshly ground ginger garlic paste.
4. Saute well until the raw smell of ginger garlic disappears.
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 cashews.
6. Next saute everything well until the mint smells good. Usually for 2 to 3 minutes. You can also add soaked drained rice now. And then saute for 2 to 4 minutes.
7. Add water and then salt as well. If you have sauteed rice in the previous step, i suggest adding hot water to cook otherwise rice grains may break.
Making vegetable pulao recipe
8. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add soaked drained rice.
9. Stir and cook the rice. There are a few different ways of cooking rice at this stage.
The first method of making veg pulao in pressure cooker is to cover the lid immediately after adding rice. And then cook on a medium high flame for one whistle. For aldente rice, Immediately I release the pressure of the cooker manually with the help of a spatula.
The second method is to cook on a medium flame until the water is almost evaporated. But it is still soggy or the rice is too wet. Cover and lower the flame completely. Then cook for 4 to 5 minutes. This method works good for both cooking in a pot or in a pressure cooker. When the pressure goes off, open the lid.
10. Mix everything well. Fluff up the rice with fork.
Serve veg pulao hot or warm with a gravy or raita.