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.
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.
Serving suggestions for veg pulao
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
Variations of veg pulao recipe
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
Pulao recipe | Veg pulao recipe | Vegetable pulao | pulav recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
Basic Ingredients for pulao recipe
- 1½ cups basmati rice (aged rice)
- 2 tablespoons 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, 1¾ cups for Instant pot)
- 3 tablespoons mint (or pudina, finely chopped) (or coriander leaves)
- 1½ teaspoons 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 teaspoon 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 teaspoon fennel seeds powder (or saunf powder – optional)
- 2 pinches stone flower (or dagad phool – optional)
How to make the recipe
Preparation for pulao recipe
- Add basmati rice to a bowl and wash it a few times until water runs clear.
- Soak it for at least 15 minutes. Drain off the water 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 chill. Fine chop the mint leaves. Set all of these aside.
How to make veg pulao recipe
- Heat ghee or oil in a hot pan or cooker.
- Next fry all the whole spices for a minute 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, cook on a medium heat until all the water is absorbed. Cover and cook on a low flame for 4 to 5 mins until the rice is done fully.
- 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 pulao rice with a fork.
- Serve veg pulao hot or warm with a simple raita or gravy.
Instant pot pulao
- Press the saute button & wait for the display to show "ON". Pour oil to the inner pot of instant 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.
- Pour 1.75 cups water and mix. Press cancel button. 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 lid of the instant pot.
- 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 raita.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
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.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
Rinse basmati rice a few times until the water runs clear. Then soak it and prepare the veggies.
Rinse, peel & chop the veggies. Add pudina to a large bowl of water and rinse it a few times. Drain completely and chop them finely.
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.