Tawa pulao is a popular street food from Mumbai, India. Made with rice, vegetables, ground spices and herbs, tawa pulao makes for an easy and quick vegetarian meal. Ranging from delicious beverages, snacks like pakoras & sandwiches to nutritious meal options like Pav bhaji, Misal pav and tawa pulao, Mumbai street food has everything delicious that you really need to satiate your food cravings.
With several hundreds of street food options in Mumbai, your taste buds literally sing out of joy. Tawa pulao is one of the popular meal options that’s spicy, flavorsome and simply delicious.
About Tawa Pulao
Tawa pulao is a rice dish made with precooked basmati rice, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, bell peppers, pav bhaji masala and coriander leaves. This rice dish is similar to a pilaf / pulao but is made on a large flat iron griddle known as tawa. So tawa pulao is a rice pilaf made on a griddle.
Usually a rice Pulao/ pilaf is a one pot meal where raw rice, spices, veggies and herbs are cooked together. But to make a tawa pulao, we first precook the rice separately and then the veggies are cooked with a masala on the tawa, to which the cooked rice is added later.
The street vendors make many kinds of dishes on a large iron tawa which imparts a unique flavor to the foods. The smoky flavor of the tawa adds a new dimension to tawa pulao as well. Since we don’t have such tawa at home, we make it in a regular pan. But If you have a cast iron or carbon steel pan, do use it.
This tawa pulao comes together in under 30 minutes and even faster if you have some cooked rice ready. This recipe shows you to make the dish in the simplest way using simple pantry staples. Here are some
If you want to replicate the street style tawa pulao, use garlic chili paste. For this soak the deseeded red chilies in little hot water, until soft, then grind them to a smooth paste with few garlic cloves.
It is difficult to make this in smaller quantities so make it with at least 10 to 12 red chilies and store in a glass tight jar. Refrigerate and use little while making tawa pulao.
Another way to make tawa pulao is by using left over bhaji (Yes the same bhaji – Pav Bhaji). Since the bhaji is completely mashed, add some onions and bell peppers for a texture and crunch.
How to Make Tawa Pulao (Stepwise Photos)
Prepare Rice and Vegetables
Cook the rice either on the stovetop, pressure cooker or Instapot. Make sure it is al dente (firm but tender) and not mushy and let it cool. For this recipe you will need half cup raw rice or 1 ½ cups cooked rice.
You will need
1 small onion – fine chopped
1 large tomato – fine chopped
¼ cup bell peppers (capsicum)
1 small potato – dice to ½ inch pieces
½ small carrot – dice to ½ inch pieces
2 to 3 French beans – chop to ½ inch pieces
¼ cup green peas
Steam or boil the potatoes, carrots, beans and green peas just until fork tender. I steam them in a cooker/ pot.
Make Tawa Pulao
Heat 1 tablespoon butter or oil in a pan. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and allow them to crackle.
Add chopped onions, and sauté until they turn transparent.
Now add 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, and pan fry for 1 minute until it turns aromatic.
Next add chopped tomatoes and salt as per taste (start with 1/3 teaspoon). Sauté the tomatoes until mushy, for about 5-6 minutes.
Sprinkle ¾ to 1 tablespoons of pav bhaji masala and ½ teaspoon of red chili powder or red chili paste (optional). Mix well to combine. If you prefer less heat, skip or reduce the amount of chili powder as the pav bhaji masala has enough heat.
It’s time to add capsicum and sauté for another 2 minutes.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of water to soften the capsicum and bring the out the masala flavors. Cook the masala with veggies until the liquid evaporates. Don’t use too much water or your pulao will get soggy.
Finally add steamed or boiled vegetables.
Stir well to combine.
Stir in 1½ cups of cooked rice after you’ve lowered the heat. Mix well. Taste test and add more salt if required.
Garnish with coriander leaves or roasted nuts, if you prefer.
Serve tawa pulao hot with sides of choice.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup basmati rice (uncooked) or (1½ cups cooked rice)
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ cup onions fine chopped, (medium size)
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- ⅓ cup tomatoes or 1 large, ripe , chopped
- ⅓ to ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¾ to 1 tablespoon pav bhaji masala (adjust to taste)
- ½ tsp red chili powder or paste (optional)
- ¼ cup capsicum chopped
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves for garnish
¾ to 1 cup mix vegetables
- 1 small potato (diced to ½ inch pieces)
- ½ small carrot (diced to ½ inch pieces)
- 3 green beans (French beans, chopped to ½ inch)
- ¼ cup green peas (frozen or boiled if using fresh peas)
- Wash rice well a few times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice for 30 mins and drain the water.
- Cook the rice with 1 cup water in a pot, on a low heat until fully cooked – al dente. If you want you can also cook in a cooker. Cool the rice completely.
- Wash and chop onions, tomatoes & capsicum. Set these aside.
- Wash and cube potatoes, beans and carrots.
- Boil or steam potatoes, beans, green peas and carrots until fork tender and not mushy. (Pour 1 cup water to a cooker or steamer, add the vegetables to a bowl and place them over a steel rack in the cooker. Cover and let steam for 15 to 20 mins)
How to Make Tawa Pulao
- Heat butter/oil in a pan, add cumin and let them sizzle.
- Add onions, fry them till transparent. Add ginger garlic paste, fry till a nice aroma comes out & the raw smell disappears.
- Next add tomatoes and salt. Fry till tomatoes turn mushy. Add pav bhaji masala and red chili powder or chili paste.
- Next add capsicum and saute for 2 to 3 mins. Pour 2 tbsp of water and cook the masala until water evaporates.
- Add the boiled vegetables. Mix well. Stir in the cooked rice. Taste test and add more salt if required.
- Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve tawa pulao hot.
- If you do not have the time to boil or steam the veggies, then you can skip using potatoes, just use peas and carrots without steaming them. Add them directly to the pan along with capsicum, but chopped small. Add 2 tbsps water more and just cook the carrots and peas in the pan itself. This simplifies the recipe and saves some time.
- Do not add too much water to the masala while cooking. It can make the rice soggy and sticky.
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
Tawa Pulao Recipe first published in July 2012. Updated and republished in March 2022.